US farmers feeling effects of trade war

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CAMPAIGN: Farmers organise against US trade war. (Photo: Farmers For Free Trade)

AMERICAN farmers are beginning to hurt from Donald Trump’s tariff war and organisers of a Tariffs Hurt the Heartland campaign say that soon all Americans will be paying the price.

Indiana farmer Brent Bible told a meeting in Indianapolis that he farms about 5,000 acres and raise primarily corn and soybeans.

“I’m supportive of the Trump administration, but I have a lot of concerns about current actions that have been taken on trade and tariffs,” he said.

“The fact that China is our number one soybean customer makes us very vulnerable. Our farm and many others like ours have already been the first casualties of a trade war.”

Former Indiana Senator Richard Lugar – once chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee – told the meeting tariffs are not the answer and have done more harm than good.

Lugar, now co-chairman of Farmers for Free Trade said the U.S. needs a different policy to address unfair trading practices.

Tariffs Hurt the Heartland is backed by more than 100 of the largest trade organisations.

In an op-ed piece, several of their leaders asked why cripple the US economy with tariffs when it’s hitting full stride.

Unemployment has fallen to lows rarely seen in the last 50 years. Earnings are up and last year median household income hit a record US$61,400.

“The administration seems determined to snatch failure from the jaws of success by escalating its trade war with our top trading partners,” they wrote.

“Farmers, dairy producers and distillers have been hit hard by retaliatory tariffs from China, the EU, Mexico and Canada.

“Soybean prices have plummeted while dairy, beef and poultry inventories are piling up in warehouses across the country.”

They warned that on top of fewer jobs for American workers and less income for farmers, families will find their budgets stretched as prices rise for everyday goods.

“Shopping bills will be higher, and those costs will start to add up, erasing savings provided by tax reform,” the op-ed said.

Proponents of tariffs say they are necessary to deal with unfair trade practices by other countries.

But the business leaders say punitive measures have done nothing to end these practices and will do more damage to American businesses, workers and consumers than they’ll ever do to the offending countries.

“We should be resolving these disputes through existing international trade agreements and organisations instead of inflicting harm on our own people,” they concluded.


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