A national farm organization says a continuing trade war will lead to a loss in profits, and in some cases, drive American farmers and ranchers out of business.
American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) members testified to a continuous trade war’s effects on farmers and ranchers. AFBF Trade Advisory Committee chairman Russell Boening voiced fears and concerns, while stressing the importance of free market access.
“We rely on trade, each and every day, to market the products we work hard to grow. In fact, about 25% of U.S. farm income is derived from selling Ag products internationally,” Boening said. “We are concerned with the blowback from the Administration’s decision to place tariffs on our trading partners.”
Boening’s family operates a dairy in Texas. They also raise additional agricultural goods, such as watermelons, feed grains, wheat cotton and beef cattle. Boening notes – America’s farmers and ranchers already face tough economic challenges, such as low commodity prices, high input costs and unpredictable weather. He adds a trade war will only heighten such down times.
“Net farm income has dropped 52% in the last five years, making it extremely difficult for farmers and ranchers to continue operating. The addition of a trade war comes at a time we can ill afford it,” Boening said.
Boening acknowledges the need to address unfair trade practices, citing China exceeding the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) support limit for farmers by $100 billion for corn, rice and wheat in a single year.
“We must have Ag trade in China. However, we must address this blatant abuse,” Boening said. “If our president is successful, and we desperately want and need him to be sooner rather than later, this could be a tremendous opportunity for agricultural trade. But, absence of a successful outcome, farm and ranch families like ours will suffer. These decisions have the potential to greatly damage our livelihoods.”