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Midstate farmers feeling squeeze of trade disputes

Written by Rachel McDevitt | Aug 22, 2018 6:13 PM
Farm in Lancaster.jpg

A field of corn is seen on a farm, Wednesday, July 11, 2018, Lancaster County, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

(Harrisburg) -- The U.S. Trade Representative is holding public hearings on President Donald Trump's proposal to impose tariffs on an additional $200 billion worth of Chinese imports.

But midstate farmers have already been dealing with the effects of tariffs created earlier this year.

The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau says the tit-for-tat trade war between the U.S. and China is hurting pork and dairy farmers in particular.

Both sectors in the state sent more than $3 million worth of products to China last year.

But spokesman Mark O'Neill said even if Pennsylvania farmers don't export directly to China, they are still hurt by the tariffs.

"When we see reductions in orders from countries overseas, that increases inventory in the United States, and then hurts the prices that farmers get paid for those products," O'Neill said.

O'Neill said dairy farmers have already been struggling with low prices for the last few years. 

"What we've seen is that dairy prices have fallen by about ten percent from where they were in the first couple months in the beginning of the year, and we believe that the export market has influenced that negative downturn," he said. 

China issued tariffs on more than $2 billion worth of American goods in April following U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

Mexico also imposed taxes on about $3 billion worth of products this summer.

That country has been a top trading partner of the Pennsylvania dairy industry, with exports valued at 22 million dollars last year.

Last month, the Trump Administration announced a $12 billion aid package for farmers hurt by trade disputes.

O'Neill said the Farm Bureau wants policy makers to throw out the new tariffs and deal with any serious issues through the World Trade Organization.

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