But that streak is in jeopardy, thanks to President Trump’s trade war with China, which has pummeled soybean exports and prices. Increasingly anxious about his family’s livelihood, the 44-year-old has taken small steps to save money, such as canceling satellite television and buying a used combine harvester rather than a new one.
One thing hasn’t changed: his support for Trump, whom Saathoff credits for taking China to task for its unfair trading behavior. He and some of his fellow farmers are willing to give the president more time to win concessions, betting that Trump won’t let things get really bad for American soybean farmers, who export about one-fourth of their crops to the Chinese market. But he also warned that their patience won’t last forever.
“He’s probably the only president who knew soybean farmers exist,” said the soft-spoken Saathoff. “I don’t know if we’re ready to rebel or not. But let’s just get the trade policy done.”
Saathoff can wait it out for at least a few more months partly because he was able to sell some of his fall harvest in advance, before soybean prices dropped. The question is: Will he and other farmers stick with Trump when they really start to feel the pain?
Timely, incisive articles delivered directly to your inbox.