While the battle for control of the House will be waged in large part in the suburbs, rural districts in Southern Illinois, Iowa, Arkansas and Missouri could prove important. And control of the Senate could come down to Republican efforts to unseat Democrats in North Dakota, Indiana, Missouri and Montana — all states staring down the barrels of a trade war’s guns.

With farmers angry and worried as China vows to retaliate, many Republicans find themselves torn between loyalty to a president who remains broadly popular in rural states and the demands of constituents, especially farmers, to oppose his tariffs…

The secretary of agriculture has some authority to help farmers by creating new programs that could draw on funds from the Treasury. For instance, the secretary could direct the Commodity Credit Corporation, a government-owned entity, to purchase soybeans to buoy farmers’ revenues, said Kent Conrad, a former Democratic senator from North Dakota.

In the past, these powers have been used to provide relief from wildfires and other natural disasters, farm groups said. But such a program could be time-consuming and costly.