In recent weeks, President Donald Trump proposed the idea of imposing a 25% tariff on steel and a 10% tariff on aluminum imports, citing an authority granted to the president in the interest of national security. Entering into this kind of trade war could have a significant impact on farmers, analysts warn.
At press time, Trump’s announcement did not have the support of his entire cabinet and was raising eyebrows around the world.
“There’s a real possibility the tariffs could invite retaliation against agriculture in the U.S.,” said Jeff Harrison of Combest, Sell & Associates on the March 2 segment of “AgriTalk.” “The consequences are altogether too real.”
Canada and Mexico will be the most impacted by the tariffs, said Shawn Haney of RealAgriculture.com, a Canadian agriculture news outlet.
“Will there be exemptions? From what I’ve read, the president has been very firm on no exemptions,” he said.
If the president were to impose these tariffs, it would be using an authority granted because of national security threats. Countries such as Canada are taking offense to that.
“It is entirely inappropriate to view any trade with Canada as a national security threat to the U.S.,” said Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. “Should restrictions be imposed on Canadian steel and aluminum products, Canada will take responsive measures to defend its trade interests and workers.”
According to Edge, a dairy cooperative in Wisconsin, a trade war with major trading partners would not be good for the U.S. and would likely impact sales for dairy farmers.
“That would be a tragic loss at the worst possible time as farmers struggle to make ends meet,” Edge leaders said in a statement.
This wouldn’t be the first time Trump has imposed tariffs, Harrison pointed out. Earlier this year, he placed tariffs on washing machines and solar panels.
“China retaliated to U.S. sorghum,” Harrison said. “Farmers are really pinched right now and they can’t afford to stub their toe. We can’t afford to lose market share in the world and keep our farmers afloat.”
The irony, Haney noted, is this protectionist action from Trump is what he has been accusing Canada of doing for dairy in the North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations.