With the news of tariffs and the possibility of a trade war with China, Badgerbean reached out to get an expert view from Brenda Boetel, UW – River Falls Professor and Department Chair of Agricultural Economics.
Tariffs are concerning for agriculture in general, according to Boetel. They can cause both short and long term harm to farmers and others.
One major short-term issue includes the ‘trickle effect’ on prices on commodities, such as soybeans and corn, and on products that use them, such as pork. Since Wisconsin farmers are heavily reliant on exports—and to China, in particular—anything that lowers prices can hit the bottom line.
A longer-term concern is whether tariffs will incentivize foreign competition, such as Brazil and Argentina, and even China itself, to ramp up their production of soybeans. More supply from abroad could reduce the price commanded for American soybeans.
As things stand now, we’re currently in a war of words. American has threatened to impose tariffs, China has retaliated with tariff threats of its own—with soybeans being the top of the list. But no action has been taken formally.
While this isn’t good, it’s far better that we’re in an exchange of rhetoric than facing firm deadlines for tariffs to go into force, says Boetel. There is still time and room to negotiate. Plus, she adds, China needs all the beans it can get so they are continuing to buy American soybeans for the time being.
What advice does Boetel have for Wisconsin farmers who are concerned about a trade war? Speak up and let your legislators know your concerns. Let them know that tariffs can hurt your livelihood and that America needs to stand behind and support her farmers.
Here’s a list of whom to call:
Sen. Ron Johnson – ask for Meris Petek’s voice mail – 202-224-5323
Sen. Tammy Baldwin—ask for Colleene Thomas voice mail – 202-224-5653
Rep. Ron Kind – ask for Aaron White’s voice mail – 202- 225-5506
Rep. Sean Duffy – ask for Ryan McCormack’s voice mail – 202-225-3365
Rep. Mike Gallagher – ask for Matt Tucker’s voice mail – 202-225-5665
Rep. Paul Ryan – ask for Laura Wiley’s voice mail – 202-225-3031
Rep. Mark Pocan – ask for Syd Terry’s voice mail – 202-225-2906
Rep. Glen Grothman – ask for Chris Grawein’s voice mail – 202-225-2476
Rep. J. Sensenbrenner—ask for Jacob Perterson’s voice mail – 202-225-5101
To make your thoughts known to President Trump, email is the fastest method to reach the President according to whitehouse.gov. You can also call and leave a comment at 202-456-1111, or write him at The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington DC 20500.