Trump campaign looks to small victories on trade to win the farmer vote

“A lot of these are activities that people have been pushing in the past or for a long time are now being touted in the context of the election,” Willems said.

The U.S. has been involved in lobster negotiations with Europe since 2018 when former European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker met with Trump at the White House and agreed to start trade negotiations. Those talks have been largely stalled and unproductive, but the recent lobster deal struck in July came just in time to help Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who is struggling in her own reelection campaign and has publicly disagreed with Trump in the past.

The Trump campaign did not hold back in promoting the lobster achievement, though it was a long time coming. Jason Joyce, a Maine lobsterman, highlighted the European Union’s Agreement to drop its 8 percent tariff on U.S. lobsters and Trump’s move to reopen the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument to commercial fishing during his speech at the RNC. He noted Obama’s original executive order that blocked fishermen from the area, a move he said was done to cater to environmental activists.

After the EU lobster deal was announced in August, Trump tweeted: “Beautiful Maine Lobsters will now move tariff-free to Europe! … I am proud to help the great people of Maine!”

Meanwhile, Trump and administration officials have gotten to highlight the biggest changes from NAFTA in his new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. The deal only went into effect in July, so companies and workers have yet to unlock most of the deal’s limited benefits. But one of the biggest changes was expanding market access for U.S. dairy in Canada, an issue that dates back to the original NAFTA deal going into effect in 1995.

Still, Vice President Mike Pence touted how USMCA is expected to increase dairy exports by more than $3 million during his campaign stop in La Crosse, Wis.

“You deserve to know that Sen. [Kamala] Harris put their radical environmental agenda ahead of Wisconsin dairy and ahead of Wisconsin power,” he said at the Dairyland Power Cooperative, referring to the Democratic vice presidential candidate’s decision to vote against the USMCA for not including strong enough environmental provisions.

“But with President Trump we will always put Wisconsin farmers, businesses and families first,” Pence added.