Sunday, April 8, 2018

Bill Crawford: Senator Serendipity

Serendipity is a word with an unusual history. It derives from an Italian translation of a 14th Century Persian fairy tale. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, serendipity was coined by English author Horace Walpole who had stumbled upon a “fairy tale called 'The Three Princes of Serendip.'" Walpole said the three princes "were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of."

That resulted in our modern word "serendipity," meaning "the phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for."

It appears Mississippi's prince, Gov. Phil Bryant, stumbled upon some serendipity himself when he selected Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Cindy Hyde-Smith as Thad Cochran's replacement in the U.S. Senate. Who knew President Donald Trump was about to start a trade war that could disrupt Mississippi's number one industry – agriculture.

"Agriculture is Mississippi’s number one industry, employing roughly 260,000 people — 17% of the state’s workforce — either directly or indirectly," reports Farm Families of Mississippi. "Agriculture contributes $7.4 billion in income — a full 22% of the state’s total — and an additional $16.1 billion in value-added income, representing 21% of the state’s total."

The President slapped tariffs on China. China slapped back, including a 25% tariff on soybeans. Trump slapped on more tariffs. Farmers are worried.

“U.S. agricultural exports to China are critical to the Mississippi River economy,” Colin Wellenkamp, executive director of the Mississippi River Cities & Towns Initiative, said, according to the Delta Farm Press. “U.S. exports of agricultural products to China totaled $19.6 billion in 2017. China is the second largest ag export market for the United States, behind Canada. China is the largest international destination for U.S. Soybeans, importing more than 27 million tons of U.S. soybeans in 2017.”

Soybeans represent the third largest ag sector in Mississippi behind poultry and forestry.

"In addition to soybeans, Bloomberg News reported that China plans to impose 25 percent duties on a slew of U.S. agricultural commodities such as wheat, corn, cotton, sorghum and tobacco," the Clarion-Ledger reported last week. "Mississippi is a leading cotton-producing state and the fourth largest exporter of cotton."

Seems pretty clear Mississippi can use an ag champion in Washington right now. Sen. Cochran played that role well until his retirement. But an even stronger advocate may be needed if an actual trade war breaks out.

Without intending to, Prince Bryant found a well suited person for that role. A horse-riding, boot-wearing, cattle farmer, Cindy Hyde-Smith is an authentic ag champion. "We make our living full-time from agriculture," she said at the Neshoba County Fair in 2011 as reported by the Mississippi Free Press. She and her husband, Mike Smith, are fourth-generation farmers.

She became known as a passionate advocate for farmers and ranchers during her eight years as chair of the Mississippi Senate Agriculture Committee and the past seven as Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce. Her successful leadership elevated her to important roles highly relevant for today, like co-chair of Trump's campaign agriculture advisory committee and a representative in USDA trade missions to China.

Whatever happens in the November special election, it sure looks like Hyde-Smith's appointment as U.S. Senator for the next eight months is serendipity at work for Mississippi.

Crawford ( is a syndicated columnist from Meridian.


Anonymous said...

Since the intent of the tariffs is to make trade with other countries fair and not for income (you do believe that don't you), there is a simple solution for our Mississippi farmers . Simply subsidize the farmers for this shortfall from this tariff income. Don't hold your breath.

Anonymous said...

"Agriculture contributes $7.4 billion in income — a full 22% of the state’s total — and an additional $16.1 billion in value-added income, representing 21% of the state’s total."
Splain this one Lucy!

Anonymous said...

China can jack up the tariffs on agricultural products all they want but the bottom line is that they have no alternative sources for those products and their domestic production is woefully insufficient to fill the gap.

Have been to China on business 6-7 times per year for nearly two decades. It is an environmental hell hole and only getting worse. There is a reason why China pays only lip service to global environmental issues.

The "free marketeers" who fight every attempt at inspections of food products from east Asia are the greedy MF'ers every American in this country should truly worry about.

Anonymous said...

The trade war will be a disaster for Mississippi. China will buy the ag products from other countries who are lined up making deals right now.

I am very disappointed in Cindy Hyde-Smith. She is running a hate based campaign trying to be more right wing than McDaniel. If Espy does not make the runoff I may just vote for McDaniel myself.

Anonymous said...

Working in the Delta at the time, I remember the US Rice embargo against shipments to Iran. Didn't hurt anybody but the US rice farmer.

Anonymous said...

Trade wars and protectionists tariffs haven't a good history, especially the Smoot Hawley tariffs of 1930 that most economists believe contributed to The Great Depression.
And, sadly, past tariffs were far more well thought out.
If you are going to attack trade deficits, starting with duties is less risky.
That MBAs are now 1 year ( or a 6 week course for executives) rather than 2 years is starting to show. Ethics and advanced economics were casualties in the cuts.
Our President doesn't have an MBA, by the way. He claims an undergraduate business degree after transferring from Fordham as being from" Wharton" so as to mislead. It's like saying a Millsaps business major has an MBA because he took his undergrad business classes in the Else School of Management building.
As for Hyde-Smith, it may be serendipity if Trump loyalists who think he can do no wrong and expect lock step loyalty. don't reject her for disagreeing with his trade policy.

Anonymous said...

Embargo ≠ Tariff

Anonymous said...

5:49, you said "I am very disappointed in Cindy Hyde-Smith. She is running a hate based campaign trying to be more right wing than McDaniel."
Please explain.
I have not seen or heard any hate based comments coming from CHS. And I don't think she's trying to be more right wing than McDaniel (if that's even possible). I just think she's refuting McDaniel's comments that she's a "liberal Democrat" when she's not.

Anonymous said...

9:15 AM you should follow her Twitter and FB. She is as bad as McDaniel. I dont think she will make the runoff but if she somehow does she does not want Democratic votes.

Vermont’s Bernie Sanders came to Jackson today. Why one of the Senate’s most liberal, anti-gun, pro-choice, socialist voices would want to plant his flag in Mississippi is BEYOND understanding. Like and RT if you agree—Mississippi doesn’t need Bernie’s liberal policies

Anonymous said...

@5:44 - I was a rice farmer during the Iran embargo. Didn't make a tinkers damn to the price I got for my crop.

Anonymous said...

10:24 pm Iran is not China. You might need to look at the differences in the amounts we exported to and imported from those two countries. Start with the populations of both countries as your hint.
You also have to look at what other countries grow and sell and make the products that are involved.
And, good Lord man, it was rice. Our rice exports can easily be covered by allies by slightly reducing their import margins from other countries.

Anonymous said...

hey mo @8:18 - China didn't even start allowing rice imports from the US until 2017. Can't miss what we never had. Go back to something you know.

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Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

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Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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