Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Sid Salter: Trade Disputes + Tariffs = High Stakes for State Farmers

While it’s easy to get caught up in the lunge-and-parry of personality politics in Mississippi’s 2018 congressional elections, the fact is that this election cycle is fraught with issues and concerns that are very real to Mississippi voters and that’s particularly true for Mississippi farmers, ranchers, and producers.

I had an opportunity to speak to the Mississippi Farm Bureau’s Summer Commodities Conference last week in Natchez and during the drive down I was taken by the number of yard signs I saw on family farms. Those signs by and large didn’t endorse a particular candidates, but offered a message to all candidates: “We Farm. We Vote.”

There are, according to the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine, some 36,200 farms in Mississippi comprising 10.7 million acres. Some 16,355 of those farms represent the sole occupation of the families living and working on them.

There’s another 19.7 million acres of timber lands in production in the state, impacting some 125,000 landowners. The farm-gate value of Mississippi agriculture production is about $7.56 billion annually. Agriculture and forestry production add a combined $16.41 billion to the state’s economy. To be sure, Mississippi farmers are concerned about state issues as well as national policies and the realities of U.S. trade policies under the leadership of the Trump Administration.

What are Mississippi farmers, landowners, ranchers, and producers growing? In order of market segment, it’s poultry and eggs, timber, soybeans, cotton, and corn. Mississippi is the country’s top catfish producing state.

We also rank high in production of pulpwood, sweet potatoes, cotton, cottonseed, broilers, rice, peanuts, and blueberries. All those crops produced in Mississippi rank in the Top 10 states nationally.

During the Farm Bureau Commodities conference, Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn of Clinton talked to conference attendees from across the state about the prospects for finding funding to improve the state’s roads and bridges. For farmers utilizing farm-to-market roads, few topics carry more import and more daily impact.

A Federal Communications Commission official talked to Farm Bureau members about rural broadband. With farmers increasingly utilizing Internet-driven technology and tools to protect and increase crop yields and to maximize narrow planting and irrigation windows, that’s not a question driven by the desire of rural residents for uninterrupted access to Netflix or Amazon Prime.

Immigration is a bedrock issue for Mississippi agriculture, particularly in labor intensive pursuits like poultry production and processing and on sweet potato farms. Farmers want secure borders, but chafe under the red tape necessary to utilize immigrant labor in accordance with federal regulations.

Talk of trade wars and tariffs are sobering and real to Mississippi farmers. Trade rifts with China brought a 25 percent tariff on soybeans. With total U.S. soybean exports to China topping more than $12 billion annually, Mississippi’s part of those exports to China were $109.7 million in 2017.

The tariffs announced by President Trump drew sharp criticism from Mississippi Democratic U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson of Bolton, whose constituents will feel a great deal of the economic impact of the tariffs.

In recent days, Trump countered some of the Democratic criticism of his trade policies by announcing $12 billion in aid for farmers impacted by the new Chinese tariffs. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue called the plan a “short term solution” to give Trump a chance to continue to negotiate fairer overall trade deals with China and other trading partners.

Members of the state’s congressional delegation and their opponents will tell quickly that the little signs dotting Mississippi family farms are true – they farm, they vote. The same is true for state lawmakers. Even with their activism, farming remains a tough life for those Mississippians seeking to carry on the mission of feeding America and the world beyond our borders.

Sid Salter is a syndicated columnist. Contact him at


Anonymous said...

Open borders Salter carries the Sanderson water again. Who in the world can be surprised at this point?

Anonymous said...

Immigration as a key issue...Legal immigration yes, illegal immigration no.

Anonymous said...

8:20 AM

that's a cop out.

there is no "legal immigration" to speak of for the jobs these people fill in our society.

we need a wholesale revamp of the immigration system but Rs stopped that dead in its tracks years ago.

to do nothing and claim they should migrate here legally is like saying OJ should keep looking for Nicole's defies the truth.

Anonymous said...

I'm a State Farmer and have been for years. Never even looked into Allstate. I'm in good enough hands with State Farm. And Salter is irrelevant.

Anonymous said...

People sneak across our borders because legal immigration is a bureaucratic nightmare and we do nothing to get those seeking a job to places in our country where they need people. And, there is little mobility in our country for those out of work in lower paying jobs to get to the towns that need workers.

And, we need better assimilation methods. We tend to have immigrants accumulate and often overwhelm one community rather than spread them throughout towns in smaller groups.

We can't even tell the difference between a refugee who can help us from a

It's not a wall, it's the need for revamping the entire system points of immigration entry not being the same as that for moving commercial trucks . We need more points of entry with monitoring with drones, people and electronic security in between.

We need centers to temporarily house, health check and vaccinate just like Ellis Island once was. And, we need the organizational structures to efficiently move refugees and citizens with computer systems to know where doctors or chicken workers are needed.

And, if a dirty bomb ever goes off in a large border city, you want American citizens to be able to flee across the border as refugees so more would live. Geez, don't you know that high walls keep people in as well as out? Or what if we have a civil war again? Want the women and children fleeing stopped by a wall?

Partisan politics oversimplifies every damn thing. And, we seem to elect simpletons as a result rather than those with ideas and solutions to complex problems!

Anonymous said...

We tend to have immigrants accumulate and often overwhelm one community rather than spread them throughout towns in smaller groups.

Illegal aliens seek the safety of numbers where they can go undetected and/or be illegally employed.

There is NO REASON why legal immigrants to this country should be forcibly distributed, or "spread", "throughout towns in smaller groups".

Anonymous said...

There is also no reason we should have illegals spreading all over our country.

Anonymous said...

Run off the migrants too, and watch fruits and vegetables rot in the fields. Just like Trump has to use forgien workers at his resorts because no citizens want the job. Citizens of the USA will not pick vegetables, work in chicken plants or other low wage undesirable jobs.

Anonymous said...

"And, we need better assimilation methods. We tend to have immigrants accumulate and often overwhelm one community rather than spread them throughout towns in smaller groups."

What's the literal definition of a government that would do that?

Anonymous said...

Once again, Salters uses hundreds of words to make a 3 sentence point. Does KF pay him per word for the right to share his drivel? Does anyone really think Bennie Thompson cares what the average farmer thinks? Bennie is in it for Bennie.

Anonymous said...

We need more immigrants not less. They are the fuel for our economy. Build the wall is nothing but the same racist hate that was used against the Polish, Italians, Irish, Chinese, and others generations ago. And don't bother saying they came "legally" because many of them did not.

Anonymous said...

You better believe Bennie takes care of the farmer,they care of him.

Anonymous said...

Sid Salter.


The new Bill Minor . . . ' light version of course'.

Anonymous said...

5:47 must be a Catholic priest. Who in his right mind actually believes that open borders is a workable concept?

Anonymous said...

I don't give a rat's ass if a chicken at Kroger costs 22 dollars and a head of lettuce goes for eight bucks. I can stop consuming both. And let the flower beds die. Unless you live in Madison, you won't be ticketed for that. Using that (nobody else will do it) hollow argument as justification for open borders is nonsense.

Anonymous said...

"I don't give a rat's ass if a chicken at Kroger costs 22 dollars and a head of lettuce goes for eight bucks. I can stop consuming both. And let the flower beds die..."

Perfect example of Trump logic. #MAGA

Anonymous said...

No, 2:35, it's not Trump logic. It makes perfect sense. For the crowd who moan about the cost of produce and chickens, let the price rise. If the rule of supply and demand won't handle that crisis, let the market rule. What's so difficult about that? Do you suggest nobody thought of that prior to Trump?

You're exactly the guy who believes the county and the state exist as an employment agency and any sensible trimming of staff or outsourcing of duties to the private sector (where they can be done better and cheaper) cannot be done because it would mean people would lose their jobs.

You're the perfect example of socialist logic. And, sadly, you vote.

Anonymous said...

Matchbooks, Salter and Here's Johnny. A trifecta of boredom and irrelevance. What's the next step after trifecta so we can include Crawford?

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Trollfest '09

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).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

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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