By Gary Brock
XENIA — At a recent agriculture event I was attending, one of the speakers was sitting at my banquet room table during lunch. Seeing my name tag indicating I am with the media, he asked me, “So, what do you think of all your (as in “media”) coverage of President Trump so far?”
Now, I was neither born nor shaken out of a tree yesterday. So I know enough to be more than careful in how to answer such a loaded question. Tact and evasive moderation is the wise advise for any journalist at that moment.
“Terrible … most of it at least,” I said, ignoring completely my own thoughts of restraint. “A lot of the national media seem out of control to me and in chaos about how to cover Trump,” I said, kind of mocking the very complaints I hear from the media regarding the President Trump White House.
I think the agriculture specialist at my table was surprised I wasn’t repeating lockstep the media’s “talking points” on this issue. Fact is, since the inauguration, most in the “mainstream” media has been working hard to find things wrong with President Trump’s first two months in office.
I told the gentleman that I hated seeing the “spun” headlines that reflected everything in the worst light possible about the president. “I think Trump is attacking parts of the media because they have abandoned any objectivity. They lost the election and they can’t seem to get on with it.”
In my travelings across the state, I talk to a number of people in the agriculture community who, for the most part, were – and still am – Trump supporters.
Here is something interesting about the last presidential election and Rural Life Today. Our publication covers 62 of the 88 Ohio counties. Many of those counties are located in rural parts of the state. However, we also cover counties that include Columbus, Dayton, Cincinnati and Toledo.
Of those 62 Rural Life Today counties, President Trump carried all but five: Athens, Franklin, Hamilton, Lorain and Lucas Counties. This includes all of Ohio except the northeast,
The total in those 62 counties? President Trump received 1,884,119 votes to Democrat Hillary Clinton’s 1,447,955. Head to head, that’s 56.5 percent for Trump and 43.5 for Clinton. That’s a bit better for Trump than the whole state average (Trump 51.3 and Clinton 43.2), and throws out 5 percent of the statewide votes received by the third, fourth and other party candidates.
In head to head results, Trump got 81.4 percent of the vote in Shelby County, 83.6 percent in Putnam County, 83.8 percent in Mercer County, 82.4 percent in Auglaize County, 81.7 percent in Darke County, and 79.5 percent in Van Wert County. Other states were closer. Clinton took Athens County 59-41 percent, Franklin County 63.7 to 36.3 percent, and Lucas County, 59.4 to 40.6 percent, among Rural Life Today counties.
So, like Ohio statewide, Rural Life Today readers live in pretty “red” counties and the very lopsided totals in these rural communities bore out their support for the president.
Now that Trump has been in office two months, do they still feel that way?
At several of the state’s farming conferences and events held the last few weeks, I asked some of these farmers what they thought so far.
It was no surprise that most still supported him, but there was one big concern — trade. That was something I had mentioned in a column a couple of months ago. Ohio farmers are reliant on the U.S. export market to sell their agriculture goods.
This goes across the spectrum of farm commodities from meat to grains to equipment and technology. However, Ohio soybean growers – and there are lots of them – are especially reliant on one market – China. And they don’t want Trump to kick at that fragile but lucrative apple cart.
“They (the Chinese) will go somewhere else – South America maybe,” said one Fayette County farmer, responding to the possibility of a tariff and perhaps a trade war with countries like China and Japan.
While they continue to support him, despite the “Worst Light” stories running in the national media, they are nervous about the future as we head into planting season. And this is a season where a number of Ohio farmers increased their ratio of soybeans to corn after 2016’s disappointing prices for corn.
It looks like 2017 is going to a stressful year for Ohio’s farmers.
Gary Brock can be reached at 937-556-5759 or on Twitter at GBrock4.