Just two days after China announced it would cease buying American agricultural goods, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue made a joke about farmers being “whiners.”
The Trump administration official received both laughter and boos from the audience at the Minnesota farm show.
"I had a farmer tell me this in Pennsylvania," Perdue said, according to Newsweek. "He said, 'What do you call two farmers in a basement?' I said 'I don't know, what do you call them?'"
Perdue said the farmer answered: "A whine cellar."
The secretary offered the joke after an exchange with farmer Mike Peterson of Northfield, Minnesota, who had complained about the June Acreage report by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)'s National Agricultural Statistics Service.
But unlike the narrative pushed by Perdue and others in the administration — including the president himself — American farmers are not doing well and likely won’t be doing well any time soon.
President Donald Trump’s tariffs on Chinese goods and China’s response to such measures have taken a serious toll on farmers. Newsweek noted that farmers are filing for bankruptcy at unprecedented rates as one of their largest markets as dried up.
Minnesota Corn Growers Association President Brian Thalmann said “things are going downhill very quickly” and farmers are not “starting to do great again.”
Likewise, American Soybean Association member Joel Schreurs said markets are not "just not going to come back in a day or two."
What Perdue jokingly characterized as whining is genuine concern over the well-being of America’s farms and farmers.