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An editorial column from the Missouri Farm Bureau Federation,
Commentary may be used as an op-ed piece or letter to the editor.


Trade War Will Hurt Missouri's Economy

BY ERIC BOHL

Trade War Will Hurt Missouri's Economy

President Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs may cause significant harm to agriculture, Missouri’s largest industry. Agriculture contributes over $88 billion annually to the state economy. In contrast, Missouri only has one former aluminum smelter that plans to partially reopen and no current steel production. For Missouri, this policy is clearly far more harmful than helpful.

Farmers rely on heavy machinery like tractors and combines and buy many tools and goods made from these materials, from cattle fencing and gates to grain bins. Several manufacturers have warned that prices for these items may surge due to the increased raw materials cost that the new tariffs will cause. As farmers enter the fifth consecutive year of low, stagnant prices, margins are thin and they cannot afford large increases to input costs.

These tariffs will also hurt our allies far more than our opponents. While the President has concentrated his rhetoric on inexpensive Chinese steel, the U.S. Department of Commerce says last year only 3.35 percent of steel imports came from that nation. The European Union, Canada and South Korea, three of our closest geopolitical allies, provide almost 50 percent of U.S. imports.

The most worrisome part of President Trump’s tariffs is the threat of retaliation from our trading partners. Agriculture is the strongest export sector in America, so it will be the first to face retaliatory tariffs from other countries upset over the steel and aluminum tariffs. American farmers export more agricultural products than any other country on earth. Retaliatory tariffs would hurt Missourians far more than President Trump’s tariffs could ever help.

While President Trump’s tariffs focused on a politically-popular sector, the steel and aluminum industry are not as important as they once were. America relies much more on the strength of its agriculture sector than its metal manufacturers. In 2017, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) estimated that the iron and steel industry produced about $147 billion worth of goods. Exports of agricultural goods alone exceeded that, at $155 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The total value of agricultural goods is nearly one trillion dollars; almost seven times the domestic iron and steel market.

Steel mills and aluminum smelters evoke memories of the hard-working American ethos, and they are still important to many communities. But today Missouri’s strongest exporter is the hard-working farmer. Washington should not lose sight of the best export industry we have.


Eric Bohl, of Columbia, Mo., is director of public affairs for Missouri Farm Bureau, the state's largest farm organization.

An editorial column from the Missouri Farm Bureau Federation, Commentary may be used as an op-ed piece or letter to the editor.

 
COMMENTARY ARCHIVES


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04-13-2017 - A Story to Remember

03-15-2017 - Paying it Forward

03-01-2017 - The Rural-Urban Divide

12-29-2016 - Ringing in Reform

12-08-2016 - A System That Works

11-03-2016 - Farmers' Almanac Finds

10-27-2016 - I Will Vote

09-29-2016 - How Bout Them Apples

09-22-2016 - Asterisks

09-08-2016 - Practicing Patience

07-21-2016 - Meet me at the Fair

07-07-2016 - GROW

05-26-2016 - Taps

05-20-2016 - A Seat at the Table

05-12-2016 - Nothing Beats a Burger

03-17-2016 - Busy People

02-25-2016 - A Dog in the Manger

02-18-2016 - Me and My Kayak

01-28-2016 - More or Less Winter

01-21-2016 - The Time for Thanks

12-30-2015 - Resolutions of Reform

12-23-2015 - Beyond Blessed

12-17-2015 - The Farmer's Tale

12-03-2015 - 'Tis the Season

12-01-2015 - What matters most

11-05-2015 - Food is simple

10-15-2015 - What's with the Weeds?

10-01-2015 - Fall Flavor Favorite

09-24-2015 - Why Tour Farms?

09-10-2015 - Bring the Kids

08-13-2015 - Farm Kids and the Fair

08-06-2015 - Rock Stars

07-30-2015 - Gone, but not for good

07-16-2015 - Time Well Spent

07-09-2015 - Behind the Wheel

06-25-2015 - A State of Discovery

06-10-2015 - Pickup Trucks

05-29-2015 - Real Deal Dairy

05-14-2015 - Decoration Day

04-30-2015 - Who's Driving

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04-10-2015 - Differing Definitions

04-02-2015 - Boots on the Ground

03-19-2015 - Who Will Speak Up?

02-12-2015 - The HITs Keep Coming

02-05-2015 - No Skin in the Game

01-07-2015 - Food Fandom

12-18-2014 - The Farmer's Tale

11-13-2014 - If It Ain't Broke

11-06-2014 - Scars on their Souls

10-30-2014 - A Wish for Winter

10-16-2014 - Timing is Everything

10-02-2014 - Food Prices Fluctuate

07-24-2014 - Lessons from the Past

07-03-2014 - Fire up the Grill!

06-26-2014 - Watching Tomatoes Grow

06-12-2014 - Say Yes

05-29-2014 - Join the Chorus

03-20-2014 - Small Steps on Ag Day

03-06-2014 - The First Green Pop

02-20-2014 - Good Storytellers

01-23-2014 - Costly Miscalculations

01-16-2014 - Resilience and Resolve

01-09-2014 - Cheerios and GMOs

12-26-2013 - New Year Focus

11-26-2013 - Right Words

11-14-2013 - Mama's Sofa

11-08-2013 - Paying Our Own Way

10-25-2013 - No Easy Fix

10-10-2013 - A Farmer's Sacrifice

10-03-2013 - Must-See TV

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07-25-2013 - Let's Play Ball

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04-11-2013 - What You Don't Know

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07-06-2012 - One of Those Years

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02-23-2012 - We Reap What We Sow

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10-20-2011 - Hooked on Halloween

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12-01-2010 - A Tale of Two Farmers

11-04-2010 - Scars on Their Souls

09-16-2010 - Ratify to Help Rectify

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04-15-2010 - God Bless You 14 Times

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02-05-2010 - Thank A Farmer

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