White House moves ahead with tariffs
As the European Union, Mexico and Canada announced that they would retaliate against U.S. goods after President Donald Trump announced he would impose tariffs on EU, Mexican and Canadian steel and aluminum, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and Senate Finance Committee ranking member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said the tariffs would be damaging to the U.S. economy while Farmers for Free Trade said the tariffs would hurt U.S. agriculture in key markets.
In an email to The Hagstrom Report, Roberts said, “Time and time again I have voiced my concerns on steel and aluminum tariffs and the damage they will cause across many sectors of the economy.”
“Agriculture in particular is likely to face harm from retaliatory action and the uncertainty that comes with it,” Roberts said. “The U.S. and China must work to resolve these issues and provide our producers with open, fair, and reliable markets.”
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., said, “It’s unfortunate that the administration has decided to start a trade war with our allies that will harm North Dakota.
“Rural America should not be treated like collateral damage, and it’s insulting to expect hardworking farmers, ranchers, and manufacturers in our state to shoulder the negative impacts of this poorly planned policy,” Heitkamp said.
“Instead of building closer ties with trading partners like Canada, Mexico, and the EU in an effort to confront bad actors like China, these tariffs severely limit our ability to build the international support needed to keep China in check and protect American jobs and our rural economies.
“With 95 percent of consumers living outside the U.S., if we aren’t exporting, we’re losing — and North Dakotans know that personally because they live it every day. I’ll keep fighting for smart trade policies that create new opportunities for North Dakota products to be sold to consumers around the world, and I’ll keep pressing the administration to put the needs of farmers, ranchers, and manufacturers first.”
Heitkamp noted that she has cosponsored bipartisan legislation introduced by Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., to nullify the aluminum and steel tariffs announced by the administration on March 8.
Wyden said, “The U.S. does need to take tough, immediate action to fight back against China’s predatory policies, and bring back American steel and aluminum jobs.”
“But these tariffs, on the very allies we need to pressure China, make no sense,” “Wyden said. “To date the administration appears to be pursuing a trade policy that creates economic chaos and uncertainty rather than jobs for hard working Americans.”
Brian Kuehl, executive director of Farmers for Free Trade, a group backed by the American Farm Bureau Federation, said, “This announcement opens the floodgates to billions in new tariffs on American agriculture.“
“The list of countries targeting or planning to target American ag exports now includes 28 E.U. members, our closest trading partners in Canada and Mexico, and the world’s largest export markets in China and India,” Kuehl said. “These are markets that the American heartland depends on for economic survival.”
“These tariffs will harm U.S. farmers and take many American farm operations to the breaking point,” he said. “Already, farmers are grappling with the impact of previous tariffs which have caused falling commodity futures, higher equipment prices, and the markets they’ve fought to get into for decades to vanish overnight.
“The addition of new retaliatory tariffs on everything from bourbon, to rice, to orange juice and cranberries will only widen the pain to additional farmers across the country.
“American farmers overwhelmingly supported President Trump in 2016 but will not be silent in the face of trade wars that harm U.S. agriculture. This summer, as lawmakers return home, the voices of farmers who are bearing the brunt of trade chaos and uncertainty will be heard.
“For many farmers, this is a matter of economic survival. We will continue to fight to ensure the administration is listening to America’s rural communities in the weeks and months ahead,” Kuehl said.
The National Pork Producers Council said, “Today’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum from Mexico and Canada, critical export markets, significantly heightens our concern as Mexico is already threatening to retaliate against U.S. pork.”
“U.S. pork shipped $1.5 billion of product to Mexico, its largest export market, and $792 million to Canada, its fourth-largest market, last year,” NPPC said. “The market disruption caused by export market uncertainty comes at a time when U.S. pork is expanding production to record levels.”
R-CALF USA was pleased with the announcement, saying it is the first step in revitalizing an ailing farm and ranch sector.
“The President’s tariffs on steel and aluminum stops the economy-destroying train that has long since left the station. Now is the time for America’s family farmers and ranchers to stand up and support the Administration’s efforts to turn that train around by ending the mercantilist practices of foreign countries so we can rebuild America’s dwindling middle class. Food purchases by America’s middle class, after all, holds our best promise to restore farm prices that will reverse the decline of America’s family farmers and ranchers,” said Bill Bullard, the group’s CEO.
Canada announced a long list of products on which it will impose retaliatory tariffs, including many in food and agriculture.
The Mexican government said its tariffs would apply to U.S. cranberries, apples, grapes, some pork products and cheeses, and various metal products, The Washington Post reported. European Union officials did not provide a list of U.S. products they would hit with taxes, but they promised a decision would be swift, the Post said.
The White House said that imposing tariffs on European Union, Canadian and Mexican steel and aluminum in order to protect the U.S. industries is a matter of national security, but both foreign leaders and analysts questioned that argument.
–The Hagstrom Report
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