Despite relief offer from Trump, Missouri farmers feel tariff crunch
JEFFERSON CITY - Both farmers and lawmakers are protesting President Trump's continued use of tariffs, despite the announcement of a $12 billion aid program for farmers affected by trade tensions.
Retaliatory Chinese tariffs on soybeans lowered the price of the crop nearly 20 percent in just a few months.
According to Eric Bohl, Director of Public Affairs and Advocacy for the Missouri Farm Bureau, such moves take money right out of farmer's pockets.
"Their crop is already growing the field and they can't do anything about that. They can't change costs they have in that product," he said.
While Bohl said the relief program is a step in the right direction, he pointed out that it's only a temporary measure.
"When people have bank loans to pay and they have to make the payment for next years product next years seed, next years fertilizer, it certainly helps with their cash flow situation if that program does get done quickly," he said. "But it doesn't make up for the difference of the loss of trading partners."
Bohl said the Bureau has gotten many calls from farmers who said they would much rather see trade than aid.
"They really would rather have those markets open so they can just sell the things that they're growing to those countries where they're willing and able to pay those prices," he said.
In Washington, lawmakers are offering the same sentiments.
Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill released a statement blasting the tariffs.
"This is a self-inflicted wound that borrowing $12 billion won’t solve," she said. "We should get back to opening markets for our farmers and aggressively enforcing our trade laws."
Even some Republicans aren't thrilled about the tariffs.
Nebraska GOP senator Ben Sasse called the policy "gold crutches" while Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson echoed the call for "trade not aid."
"Well, tariffs are not great," South Carolina GOP senator Tim Scott said. "But the fact of the matter is trying to find a way to better position American workers for the future is a laudable goal."
Bohl said many farmers are confident the tariffs will run their course in the near future.
"We're still optimistic things are going to turn around and that the president is going to continue negotiating with these other countries and come to some sort of agreement with them that opens the markets back to full, fair and free trade," he said.
However, he said the tariffs could have long term effects, ruining valued relationships.
"Relationships mean everything in trade," he said. "Once those relationships get broken and they build that relationship with another country, maybe Brazil or Argentina, it's hard to every get them back."