Import Tariffs: Farmers Are the Real Victims

American farmers will be the real victims of the Trump administration’s recent tariffs on certain imports. Trump has placed a 25-percent tariff on steel and a 10-percent tariff on aluminum imported from China, Canada, Mexico, and the EU, and an additional 25-percent tariff on a number of other Chinese imports. Those countries are retaliating by placing tariffs on certain American farm products.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said that the tariffs “are a firm statement that other nations cannot bully our agricultural producers to force the United States to cave in.”

Continuing with the irony, Trump said, in a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, that farmers “will be the biggest beneficiary.”

It’s not clear what Trump meant by “beneficiary.” A variety of farmers will suffer as an indirect result of Trump’s tariffs. Farmers who will feel the most pain are growers of soybeans, but those who raise cotton, wheat, sorghum, cattle, hogs, legumes, nuts, and fruits, have been targeted, as well. Some of the hardest-hit farmers are in those states that supported Trump.

Now the Trump administration plans to come to the “rescue” of American farmers by offering them roughly $12 billion in government assistance. So after severely harming their livelihood, the Trump administration offers farmers relief from its own trade policy.

But the aid is not likely to be enough to fully replace the revenue lost. The damage done by the tariffs will be long-term, and won’t be repaired by a one-time or short-term patch. Smaller farmers are likely to go out of business as a result of their losses. What’s more, farmers want to farm, participate in the global economy, and contribute to the world’s food supply. Most significantly, it doesn’t make sense to attempt to punish other nations (including some of our allies) by ultimately hurting one’s own people, and then implementing a costly system to “help” them.

Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) stated it well: “You have a terrible policy (of tariffs) that sends farmers to the poorhouse, and then you put them on welfare, and we borrow the money from other countries. It’s hard to believe there isn’t an outright revolt right now in Congress.”

Does the emergency aid for farmers offer a solution or more problems? | Washington Post [2018-07-24]

Impact of Trump’s tariffs on his GOP base | Fox Business | [2018-07-24]

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