How did the biggest agricultural states vote in the US election?

The race remains tight between Republican and current president of the US Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden as the election counts continue.

While the outcome of the election is sure to have an impact on trade and agricultural and environmental policy to name but a few things, AgriLand has noted with great interest how the biggest agricultural-producing states in the US voted.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), in 2019, the top 10 agricultural-producing states in terms of farm payment / cash receipts were (in descending order): California; Iowa; Nebraska; Texas; Minnesota; Illinois; Kansas; Wisconsin; North Carolina; and Indiana.

According to the same source of data, the 10 largest sources of cash receipts from the sale of US-produced farm commodities were (in descending order): cattle/calves; corn; dairy products/milk; soybeans; broilers; miscellaneous crops; hogs; wheat; chicken eggs; and hay.

The USDA says that trade is essential to the US agricultural sector, with exports accounting for more than 20% of the volume of US agricultural production and, in 2019, exports equaled about $136.7 billion.

The department also notes:

In recent years, the leading agricultural export products in terms of value have been bulk commodities including soybeans, corn and wheat. Top US exports of high-value products include feeds and fodder, beef and veal [fresh or frozen] and almonds.

“East Asia and North America remain top regions for US agricultural exports. From 2013 to 2015, East Asia and North America combined to account for about 62% exports. East Asia, led by China, Japan and South Korea, was the largest market, with a collective 34% share.”

In a report by the department, it is noted that dairy production is “concentrated in a relatively small number of states”.

California and Wisconsin are the largest and the second largest milk production states, together accounting for nearly 33% of US milk production in 2018, while the next six states – Idaho, New York, Texas, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Minnesota – combined at 34%.

How does the US presidential election process work?

As explained on the US governmental website, in other US elections, candidates are elected directly by popular vote. But the president and vice president are not elected directly by citizens. Instead, they’re chosen by “electors” through a process called the Electoral College.

The Electoral College is “a process, not a place”. The Electoral College process consists of the selection of the electors, the meeting of the electors where they vote for president and vice president, and the counting of the electoral votes by congress.

The general election is held every four years on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. When someone votes for a presidential candidate, they are actually voting for the candidate’s preferred electors.

Most states have a “winner-take-all” system that awards all electors to the presidential candidate who wins the state’s popular vote. However, Maine and Nebraska each have a variation of “proportional representation”.

As it currently stands at the time that AgriLand reports on this, Joe Biden has 264 electoral votes, while Donald Trump has 214. Each candidate needs 270 electoral votes to win the presidency.

How the 10 biggest agricultural states in the US voted:
  • California: Biden;
  • Iowa: Trump;
  • Nebraska: Trump;
  • Texas: Trump;
  • Minnesota: Biden;
  • Illinois: Biden;
  • Kansas: Trump;
  • Wisconsin: Biden;
  • North Carolina: Not yet called, Trump leads;
  • Indiana: Trump.

What is interesting to note is that the two biggest dairy producing states – California and Wisconsin, as previously stated – both voted for Biden. What may have had a part to play in this is the ‘trade war’ between the US and China and the impact it has had on US exports of dairy products.

One of the top commodities for the remaining states is corn.

‘America’s rural heartland stuck firmly with Donald Trump’

As reported by The Guardian, “America’s rural heartland stuck firmly with Donald Trump”.

“In Iowa and Missouri, Trump’s support in rural counties generally held up or strengthened. In some states, that delivered him victory. In others, such as Wisconsin, Biden triumphed after a surge of urban votes,” the report by The Guardian says.

“But the president’s solid performance in rural America could cost the Democrats control of the senate after what the party regarded as its best shot at two mid-western seats in Iowa and Kansas flopped.

Iowa is not a crucial state for Biden but his failure to significantly reduce the size of Trump’s 2016 victory there is evidence that the Democrats failed to persuade swaths of rural America that the party had much to offer them or was even paying attention to their communities and concerns.

“Trump also did well with agricultural communities where he gained credit with farmers like Aaron Schatz for taking on what he regarded as an inevitable showdown with China over agriculture, even if sanctions hurt farmers in the short term.”

The Guardian reported in August on this “fifth-generation farmer” Schatz who expressed that, as a dairy farmer, he feels he is “sitting better than I have in 10 years”.

The Guardian’s report continued:

The evidence that Trump retained his appeal for many rural voters could be found even in mid-western states that went to Biden.

“Six former Democratic mayors in upper Minnesota signed a letter in support of the president and condemning Biden and the Democrats as out of touch with working people and rural America. They praised Trump for cutting taxes, standing up to China to protect American jobs and said he ‘fought for the working class’.”