Farm state Democrats like Senator Heidi Heitkamp have attacking President Donald Trump’s trade policies, arguing they’ve been bad for the agriculture industry. Which is fair. We can debate the point, but promoting contrasting views on important policies like trade tariffs is exactly what campaigns should be about (and aren’t nearly about enough).
Still, a specific pile of soybeans has become something of an embarrassment for Heitkamp and her allies in these closing days of the election.
About a week ago Senator Heitkamp tweeted a campaign image which showed a large stockpile of soybeans at the Maple River Grain elevator in Casselton. The pile “is what the trade war looks like,” she said.
This huge pile of unsold soybeans in Casselton is what the trade war looks like. Our farmers can’t sell their beans & it’s hurting our economy. But @kevincramer doesn’t care — he’s committed to voting with his political party 100% of the time rather than standing up for ND. pic.twitter.com/pEEee0ejgi
— Heidi Heitkamp (@HeidiHeitkamp) October 27, 2018
The folks at Maple River obviously noticed their bean pile in Heitkamp’s campaign messaging, and so they published their own message pushing back a bit, noting that such a pile wasn’t an uncommon site even before President Trump’s efforts on trade:
Anyway, flash forward to today, and the New York Times has a pre-election story about the impact of Trump’s trade policies on soybean producers. “Their Soybeans Piling Up, Farmers Hope Trade War Ends Before Beans Rot,” reads the headline over an article by Binyamin Applebaum.
The problem? The Times illustrates their story with a photo of the same Maple River bean pile Heitkamp touted.
The pile which wasn’t any bigger this year than it was last year:
Again, this does not mean that anything the Times has reported is specifically inaccurate (I haven’t done a thorough read of Applebaum’s article yet) but it is problematic to illustrate an article about soybeans rotting on the ground due to Trump’s trade policies with a picture of a pile that’s a) not going to rot on the ground and b) wasn’t an unusual sight even before Trump’s policies were implemented.