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Letter to the editor: Tariffs and trade wars are not the solution to problems

 

Rob Port, pursuing his anti Heidi Heitkamp obsession, tries to paint objection to the Trump tariffs as partisan desperation by Sen. Heitkamp and Democrats (July 30 Sun). He is wrong (again).

Some time ago, President Trump stupidly tweeted “Trade wars are good and easy to win.” More recently, he compounded the stupidity with “Tariffs are the greatest.”  I am sure no sane economist on planet Earth agrees.

Objection to Trump’s tariffs and trade wars is not coming only from Democrats. Numerous Republicans in Congress have spoken against tariffs. Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., simply said “Tariffs are stupid.” The Senate recently voted 88 to 11 for a nonbinding resolution asking for Congress to take a greater role in trade policy. We hope the Republicans soon get enough backbone to take real action.

A large part of our farm’s production consists of soybeans, both commercial and identity preserved food grade. I had the opportunity to serve as a director of the soybean check-off funded North Dakota Soybean Council. One of the council’s priorities is building long-term relationships with foreign buyers of our exported soybeans. Likewise, our identity preserved food grade soybeans are marketed overseas through a business organization that has established relationships with buyers over a long period of time. Now we have a president indicating to our customers that the United States is not to be trusted. Soybean futures have dropped about $2 per bushel since the tariff threats and retaliation started. I keep hearing “short-term pain for long-term gain.” I don’t think so. We have already put a lot of effort into long-term gain. Now all that effort is being challenged by unnecessary tariffs and trade wars.  

The soybean, corn, and wheat markets are not the only Trump inflicted problem faced by farmers. Tariffs on steel and aluminum have the potential to increase costs of farm equipment, grain bins and repairs. So we get lower returns combined with increased costs. Thank you, Trump.

Port and others think we farmers will be OK because Trump will bail us out. Well, every farmer I know would rather get their income at the market and not wait for a government check. So, to the Trump administration: Stop screwing up our established foreign markets. Yes, I know there are problems with China and other trading partners. But most of us know that tariffs and trade wars are not a rational solution.

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