Two years ago, Badger state residents contributed to Donald Trump’s electoral victory. But in liberal Madison, they adore Tammy Baldwin, the first lesbian elected to the US Senate.
A Democrat running in Trump country, even a well-loved incumbent like Baldwin could face an uphill battle. But the dairy state may have already soured on Trump.
The Midwest is in a state of flux due to collapses in milk and grain prices, and Wisconsin has been particularly hard hit by a crisis that Trump’s policies have only made worse. Dairy farms are a critical part of the foundation of the state economy, but they’re disappearing from the landscape at an alarming rate. In June, the state legislature at another 54 dairy farms, out of the 78 left operating systems in may. In the past year, 388 dairy farms have stopped milking cows.
The Trump administration isn’t exactly helping. Thanks to the administration’s trade war with Mexico, Canada, and China, dairy farmers are getting slammed by new tariffs on dairy products.
About 90% of Wisconsin’s milk is turned into cheese, all but 10% of which is sold out of state. Mexican tariffs alone, from the nation that buys nearly a quarter of the state’s dairy products, are costing the industry $387 million.
Combined with tariffs, Trump’s immigration policies have delivered a one-two punch to Wisconsin’s dairy industry. Nationwide, 51 percent of dairy workers are immigrants, and more than three-quarters are undocumented.
Wisconsin farmers say that the immigrant workers are filling jobs that Americans don’t appear to want. As workers fearing ICE raids flee the US, Wisconsin is losing about ten dairy farms a week. A complete loss of the immigrant workforce could close up to 15 percent of dairy farms nationwide.
Wisconsin may have played a decisive role in electing Donald Trump, but before that, the state hadn’t elected a Republican president since 1984.
For Baldwin, known for her commitment to the state, that means it’s likely that Trump’s expiration date is up, and opposing him is the ticket to re-election.