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Davenport farmer worries about Mexican “corn wars” over Trump threats

DAVENPORT - Scott County farmer Robb Ewoldt worries about a Mexican proposal to stop buying American corn as retaliation for President Trump's talk about trade and immigration restrictions.

"We work hard to open the doors," he said, on Tuesday, February 14.  "We would hate to see them close."

But Mexico is readying to push back against President Trump's threats.  A Mexican senator wants his country to stop buying corn from the U.S. and switch to South American crops.

"Is this going to be the straw that breaks the camel's back for farmers?" Ewoldt wondered.

Mexico could dump U.S. corn to instead buy from Brazil and Argentina. Those South American countries produce year-round crops.

Ewoldt, who just returned from a fact-finding trip to South America, isn't pleased.

"I'm not happy with it by any means," he said.

In Iowa, an estimated 53,000 jobs rely on trade with Mexico.

The U.S. leads the world in corn production. It exports some $2.4 billion in corn to Mexico. Figures, though, that could abruptly change.

While Iowa produced a record corn crop in 2016, low prices dropped farm income by 40% over the last four years.

Ewoldt hopes that President Trump's business experience will help to defuse the economic tension with Mexico.

"Farmers are stressed right now," he said.  "Anytime you add the potential of knocking our grain prices even more, it adds more stress."

Political stress that could hurt Midwestern exports. Exports that help farmers to make a profit.

"We're cautiously optimistic that this will work itself out without affecting our prices," he concluded.

Stress that Iowa farmers just can't afford right now.