We have all been there, told a joke at the wrong time and to the wrong group. Apparently, not even the Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue is above the “tough crowd” feeling. When Perdue tried to crack a joke at the farmer’s expense over the current trade war between the U.S. and China, not everyone in the crowd found it entertaining.
“I had a farmer tell me this in Pennsylvania,” Perdue said at a farm show in Minnesota last Wednesday, according to Agri-Pulse. “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 said: “A whine cellar.”
There was some uncomfortable laughter in the crowd, but that was quickly overshadowed by others who were upset and booed the joke due to the insensitive timing and nature. The joke was told two days after China declared a halt to purchasing American agricultural products as retaliation from Trump increasing tariffs on Chinese goods. Can you say “Too soon?”
Normally farmers are the first ones to joke about their situation. However, as the Secretary of Agriculture who represents the choices of the Trump Administration, maybe don’t make a joke at your farmers’ expense when so many family farms can’t pay the bills amid the ongoing trade war. Many farmers back President Donald Trump’s overall goal of straightening things out with China, however, they will not be able to continue on this path much longer.
According to American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall, “In the last 18 months alone, farm and ranch families have dealt with plunging commodity prices, awful weather, and tariffs higher than we have seen in decades.
“Farm Bureau economists tell us exports to China were down by $1.3 billion during the first half of the year. Now, we stand to lose all of what was a $9.1 billion market in 2018, which was down sharply from the $19.5 billion U.S. farmers exported to China in 2017.”
Outlets such as Newsweek have reached out to Perdue to hear what he has to say about the ill-timed joke, but he’s been mum on the issue. Probably a wise move.