Jim Byrum, president of the Michigan Agri-Business Association, said new tariffs announced Monday by China will “tighten the noose” even further for Michigan farmers who rely on export markets.
Detroit Free Press
EAST LANSING — Frustrated Michigan farmers blasted the Trump administration’s trade policies Monday, hours after China announced new tariffs on $60 billion in U.S. imports.
“The noose is getting tighter,” said Jim Byrum, president of the Michigan Agri-Business Association.
“We have lost market opportunities. We’re not shipping soybeans around the world like we normally would. We’re not shipping them to China. China was our biggest soybean consumer, and they’re not moving.”
China was also the biggest opportunity for Michigan producers to sell pork, “and they’re not buying because of the tariffs,” Byrum said.
“The new Chinese tariffs … it’s going to hurt even more.”
Byrum and other Michigan farm industry leaders spoke at a news conference that was scheduled earlier to urge speedy passage of the the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement on trade, which they say will help farm exports from Michigan and the U.S.
Michigan farmers say Chinese tariffs are already hurting them and new ones announced Monday will “tighten the noose.” (Photo: SAM OWENS/ COURIER & PRESS)
But they acknowledged that prospects for passing that pact are tangled up in tit-for-tats over tariffs on aluminum and steel affecting Canada and Europe, plus the escalating trade war with China.
They said they are increasingly concerned that the U.S. is losing its reputation as a consistent and reliable supplier of farm products. Not only are new opportunities being lost, but existing customers are finding new suppliers and may never return, they said.
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“Nobody wins in a trade war,” said Ken Nobis, senior policy advisor for the Michigan Milk Producers Association. “It’s a tax on U.S. citizens.”
Michigan doesn’t send many dairy products to China, but the state of Washington does, and their inability to ship to China results in higher U.S. supplies and depressed prices, Nobis said.
Kathy Maurer, financial and international marketing director for the Michigan Soybean Association, said, “China is our largest customer,” and she expects the impact of the recently announced tariffs to be “very dramatic.”
“We are now currently in a fight for the family farm,” she said.
Dave Armstrong, president and CEO of GreenStone Farm Credit Services, which provides loans and insurance to farmers, said the situation is made worse because U.S. farms were in recession even before the tariffs were imposed.
“About 70% of U.S. farmers are at high risk of financial problems, according to the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture),” he said.
Tariffs are also causing farmers to face higher production costs, officials said.
Trump, a Republican, had strong support in rural area in his 2016 election victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton.
China said Monday it will slap tariffs on more than 5,000 U.S. products in retaliation for President Donald Trump’s decision to raise duties on Chinese goods amid trade talks between the world’s two largest economies.
China’s Ministry of Finance said the new tariffs would impact $60 billion in U.S. imports and would range from 5% to 25%. The tariffs will take effect June 1, which would give the two sides time to resume trade negotiations that broke off last week without reaching a new deal.
The tariffs will impact a wide range of U.S. products, including coffee, beef, salmon, flowers and some fruits and vegetables.
Trade talks between the two countries stalled Friday without a new deal after Trump raised tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods to 25% from 10%, including office furniture, handbags and frozen catfish fillets, after trade talks between the two countries stalled.
Trump said in a tweet Sunday that China “broke the deal” and “tried to renegotiate.”
The U.S. Trade Representative’s Office also has started the process of levying tariffs on another $325 billion in Chinese goods, a move that would mean that virtually every Chinese import that enters the U.S. will be subject to a levy.
The USA Today contributed to this report.
Contact Paul Egan: 517-372-8660 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @paulegan4. Read more on Michigan politics and sign up for our elections newsletter.
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