“My breaking point with the current president came when I realized his trade war had caused 20% losses for the 750-acre family farm I help run in western Pennsylvania,” Rick Telesz of Lawrence County wrote in an op-ed last year.
A farmer in Pennsylvania is among several everyday Americans who have been chosen to speak at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) this week.
The DNC asked people to submit videos sharing their personal stories and “casting a vote” in support of the presumptive party candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden. Rick Telesz of Lawrence County was announced as among those selected to be featured, calling in from every U.S. state and territory.
The “Uniting America” segment will be shown throughout the virtual convention from Monday through Thursday.
“I’m flattered, truly flattered. And I seriously do ask myself, why me?” Telesz told Pittsburgh’s CBS affiliate KDKA last week.
A resident of Voylant, Pennsylvania, Telesz runs a generations-owned family farm that spans hundreds of acres and specializes in producing soybeans, dairy, and corn. Telesz won several regional grain yield awards, including the 5-Acre Corn Club award for Western Pennsylvania in 2017.
In recent elections, he voted for former President Barack Obama two times before he flipped to support Donald Trump in 2016. Now, he says he won’t vote for him again in the November election.
“But my breaking point with the current president came when I realized his trade war had caused 20% losses for the 750-acre family farm I help run in western Pennsylvania,” he wrote in a USA TODAY op-ed last year. “We produce soybeans, corn and dairy products, all of which have been targeted by tariffs. We operate on margins of 1-2%, which made the losses severe.”
The farming industry is largely considered an important base of voters for President Trump. Telesz told KDKA that his farm may take a 40% hit due to tariffs as a result of the Trump administration’s actions on China as well as trade between Canada and Mexico.
“Farmers aren’t as easily fooled as the president thinks,” Telesz said in his USA TODAY op-ed. “We are the put-up-or-shut-up type. And for more than a year now, instead of progress, we’ve seen empty promises. Instead of bringing down tariffs, at best we have seen temporary pauses and at worst we’ve seen tariffs go even higher. Instead of delivering open markets, we’ve been given Band-Aid subsidies that fail to stem the bleeding.”
The farming industry has enough voting power to potentially sway results in farm-heavy states, especially in Pennsylvania where Telesz resides.
“Why would I want to give him a contract for another four years?” Telesz told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “This guy has not done anything positive for me.”