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Tariffs targeting Mexico won’t help Iowa farmers

By Staff | Jun 18, 2019



Producers in Iowa and beyond have been expressing their concerns about President Trump’s tariffs he has been threatening to impose upon Mexico.

Trump officials have claimed a tentative deal between Mexico and the U.S. as a breakthrough, but Trump said he could still impose those tariffs.

Matt Deppe, chief executive officer of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, said U.S. beef exports to Canada and Mexico totaled $1.8 billion, adding $70 per head.

“This needs to be worked out without going through the traditional ramifications of the USMCA,” he said. “The USMCA needs to be honored. It seems like politics are getting in the way and affecting a very soft ag economy. It’s affecting producers and there is so much uncertainty going forward.”

Deppe said the organization has been “very clear” that the government and producers need to work together for the betterment of the ag industry.

“We hope the White House will work with less political banter, especially if they need to talk about immigration. Producers have been reaching out to us and we know, based upon the last few weeks of conversations on the phone and face to face that our producers, as well as other producers, harbor uncertainty about the trade markets and export markets,” he said.

David Herring, president of the National Pork Producers Council, expressed his concern about Trump’s original plan to impose five percent tariffs on all Mexican imports.

“We appeal to President Trump to reconsider plans to open a new trade dispute with Mexico. American pork producers cannot afford retaliatory tariffs from its largest export market, tariffs which Mexico will surely implement. Over the last year, trade disputes with Mexico and China have cost hard-working U.S. pork producers and their families approximately $2.5 billion,” Herring Stated.

He encouraged forward motion for the ratification of the USMCA that preserves a zero-tariff pork trade in North America long-term. Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes said U.S. pork producers have lost $12 per hog because of trade retaliations by Mexico.

Iowa Soybean Association president Lindsay Greiner said Iowa farmers continue to suffer from the use of tariffs to shape trade reform.

“The last thing farmers need right now is a secondary dispute that once again rests on the backs of rural Americans. We urge the president to rethink the use of tariffs on Mexican exports to the U.S. Mexico is now Iowa’s top trading partner, the loss of which would only add insult to injury in an already-struggling farm economy. Ratification of the U.S. Mexico-Canada Agreement should be the focus when it comes to our relationship with our southern neighbors,” he stated.

Producer Curt Mether, president of the Iowa Corn Grower’s Association, explained that tariffs will harm trade between Mexico and the U.S., which is a top market for American corn producers.

“In 2017/2018, corn and corn product exports to Mexico were valued at $3.3 billion. Corn exports to Mexico reached 618 million bushels, 15.7 million tons, up nearly 13 percent from 2016/2017. Add in U.S. distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGs), an additional 2.13 million tons of corn bushels are exported to our neighbors,” Mether stated. “The Iowa Corn Growers Association policy established by our members outlines that we oppose tariffs and embargos as a means to change trade policy and supports working with other countries for free trade. Therefore, we work to defend this policy, and we need trade wars to stop for some type of certainty to the marketplace.”

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