Get ready for economic ‘war,’ Texas cattle ranchers

The 45th president of the United States has launched a multi-front war: against the media and against our nation’s major trading partners.

I’ve discussed the media war already. The growing trade war is another critter altogether.

The Dallas Morning News has published an interesting essay that suggests the first victim of the trade war will be — get ready for this one! — the cattle producers from Texas, of all places.

Why is that so strange, so ironic? It could be that Donald J. Trump had no more loyal ballot-box supporters in the 2016 presidential election than those who produce beef in the Lone Star State.

So, what does the new president do? He goes straight after Mexico, a leading importer of Texas beef. He tells Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto that Mexico will pay for that “beautiful wall” Trump plans to build along our southern border; Pena Nieto says “no, we won’t!”

The irony is rich, indeed. Trump pulled the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would have opened up another huge market for Texas red meat. That deal is a goner, too.

Much of the rest of Trump Country — throughout the agricultural Midwest — is going to feel the pain of the president’s trade war.

As Richard Parker’s essay in the DMN notes: “Texas ranchers, though, will not be alone for long. Beef producers from Nebraska to the Dakotas face the same problems. So do grain farmers in Kansas and the snow-covered corn fields of Iowa, just like tomato farmers in California and Florida and autoworkers in Michigan, longshoremen, truckers and railway workers in Miami and Houston and Long Beach. These will be the first casualties of a trade war.”

It’s amazing to some of us that the president would launch into this kind of blundering bluster without thinking of the consequences that his most loyal grassroots political allies will suffer as a result.

As Parker notes: “The irony, of course, is that states like Texas, the plains states and Michigan all helped put Trump in office. But the cows in pasture don’t care about politics. And cowboys rightly don’t care about irony, even if they are to be its first casualties.”

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