Farmers fretting over White House trade policies will aim to appeal directly to President Donald Trump during his favorite shows on Fox and MSNBC.
The effort by farmers, a key part of the president’s base, will be the first to appeal directly to the president in his living room. The advertisement, which starts Wednesday and runs through the month, will air during Fox and Friends, Lou Dobbs and Morning Joe — some of Trump’s favorite shows for distilling the day’s news, said one source familiar with the planning of the campaign.
U.S. farmers hope to make the case that foreign retaliation to Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum and other pending trade restrictions will have a potentially devastating impact on their exports, if China and other trading powers decide to ratchet up tariffs on soybeans, wheat and other farm goods.
“The crops that we grow here on this farm are exported across the globe,” Michelle Erickson-Jones, a farmer and rancher from Broadview, Mont., says as part of the 30-second ad. “Policies that restrict trade would be devastating for farms like ours. Someday I’d like to pass the farm down to my boys. Mr. President, protect free trade and keep our agriculture economy strong.”
“Our biggest concern is retaliatory action, at least in the short term,” Erickson-Jones, who is president of the Montana Grain Growers Association, said in an interview.
The European Union has already released a list of American goods it plans to raise tariffs on, many of which are agriculture and food items.
The half a million-dollar ad buy was sponsored by Farmers for Free Trade, an advocacy group formed last year by several agriculture industry groups in response to the president’s potential withdrawal from NAFTA and other trade policies that could be detrimental to agricultural exports. The group is co-chaired by former Democratic Montana Sen. Max Baucus and former Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar, a Republican.
“When the U.S. engages in a tit-for-tat fight with our trading partners, farmers pay the price,” Baucus said in a statement. “While we need tough trade enforcement, we need to be smart about avoiding global trade fights that hurt American agriculture.”
The ad will run in both the Washington, D.C., and the West Palm Beach media markets. That way, Trump won’t miss seeing them when he takes his regular sojourn to his Florida golf club, the source briefed on the campaign said.
After last week’s tariff announcement, business groups opposed to the policy have made pointed statements warning of increasing prospects of a trade war and formed coalitions to fight against the trade barriers.
But the agriculture-focused ad is meant to show that “farmers are on the leading edge of the pushback,” the source said. “This kicks off a larger campaign to get more farmers to speak up in the same way.”