Opinion

American Farmers Face Bleak Future Unless Trump Reverses Tariffs

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I am a farmer. I run a family farm near Dunn, North Carolina.

The group Farmers for Free Trade recently announced an $800,000 campaign that throws a spotlight on the negative effects that tariffs are having on the heartland of this country. You can see that at www.tariffshurt.com.

This group, along with the American Soybean Association and the Texas Farm Bureau are working to make the case for pro-trade policies for agriculture.

That’s good. I’m glad they’re doing it. But I wanted to add my two cents to explain from personal experience why farmers are experiencing long-term harm from President Trump’s trade warring.

Understand that he isn’t slapping tariffs on us directly. Foreign governments are doing that in retaliation for his tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum, primarily.

Farming families like mine are being hit by these tariffs on multiple fronts. Not only is it hurting our exports, but much of our equipment is made from steel and aluminum, which are now more expensive because of these tariffs.

We are being targeted because America is a bread- and soy- and many-other-things basket to the rest of the world. Fully 20 percent of the income of American farmers comes from exports, and for some of us, that percentage is a lot higher.

We produce one of America’s most reliable exports, so of course foreign governments are targeting us in retaliation for Trump’s tariffs.

The president recognizes some of the harm that this is doing to us. As a result, he has made available up to $12 billion in temporary relief to offset the blowback.

That’s not chump change, but what we really need to prosper is contracts in foreign markets, not compensation. We don’t just plant something today, grow it tomorrow, and ship it the next day.

We have to plan, plant or inseminate, wait for growth, harvest, and then ship. The weather and other factors can be unstable enough. We don’t need a trade war making our products so unsaleable that in many cases farmers simply allowed crops to rot in the fields.

By sowing instability, the president is sowing long-term damage and foreign competitors are exploiting that.

For instance, at the same time China has hit our farmers with tariffs, China is encouraging domestic farmers to ratchet up soy production, which could do long-term, lasting damage to our soy farmers.

The president’s bailout is a short-term solution and an imperfect one at best. It may help many farmers to stay in business for right now, but it does nothing for our equipment suppliers, our shippers, our people who hire on as seasonal help — many of whom were denied jobs because there was no harvest.

It also does nothing to address the eroded market position of many American farmers. With increased competition, it will be hard to get back. If the tariffs continue, we may never get it all back.

That is the bleak and uncertain future that American farmers are now staring into, through absolutely no fault of our own. President Trump has it in his power to reverse course and change that. I dearly hope he does the right thing.

Blake Lassiter is a farmer from Dunn, North Carolina.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.