Farmers worry about the impact new tariffs will have on future exports

By  | 

ROCK ISLAND CO., Ill. (KWQC) – Phil Fuhr has been farming corn and soybeans for 25 years. His livelihood partially depends on exporting his products to foreign countries. And he is concerned this may get tougher to do.

“The big word today was steel and aluminum tariffs,” Fuhr said.

He’s referring to the 25 and 10 percent tariffs President Donald Trump imposed on imported steel and aluminum respectively. The tariff goes into effect in 15 days.

Fuhr says this will be tough on farm equipment and grain bins, but bigger worries are on the forefront of his mind.

“The main concern is when you start putting tariff's on one product other countries are going to retaliate put tariffs on U.S. Products coming into their countries,” he said.

“Over half our soybean crop is exported and 10-20 percent of our corn product is exported,” he continued.

Fuhr is afraid of the message imposing tariff’s sends to other countries.

“If we start a trade war it could light a powder keg if you'd say, and every other country could retaliate in some way shape or form,” Fuhr said.

And he's not the only one with this concern.

Sen. Dick Durbin, (D) Illinois, released a statement saying in part:

"The sweeping tariffs announced today are like dropping a bomb on a flea. Launching an all-out trade war will alienate the allies we need to actually solve the problem of steel dumping, and could have huge unintended consequences for American manufacturers who depend on imported materials."

Sen. Joni Ernst, (R) Iowa, held similar views.

“This threat of retaliation is a reality,” she in a recorded statement March 8. “History has shown that retaliatory tariffs are often targeted at agriculture. Our farmers are deeply fearful, and I share their sentiment.”
President Trump has touted the tariffs as a necessity for American’s safety.

“Today I'm defending America's national security by placing tariffs on foreign imports of steel and aluminum,” he said.

This all comes after nearly a year of uncertainty surrounding the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Farmers say agriculture is very dependent on exports and between these new tariffs and NAFTA hanging in the air farmers are worried.

The president did exempt Mexico and Canada from the tariff restriction until a NAFTA deal can be reached.

Today, March 8, Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland called this move a step forward, but added NAFTA and the U.S. tariff on metals are separate issues.