This flies in the face of traditional trading norms. When countries stop buying US farm products like soybeans and milk, assuming these buyers will be back as soon as the tariffs are lifted is not realistic. This is particularly true if the buyers are pleased with their new source and it appears to be more reliable. As evidence to the market uncertainty created by these tariffs, the President announced this week that he will not put in place the new tariffs he had promised because they would raise prices on shoppers during the holiday season. I thought the President told us that China would be paying for these tariffs?
Why would these countries come back to the United States when the current administration could very likely without notice put the tariffs back on?
Although I have a B.S. degree in Dairy Husbandry, I know this did not totally provide me a solid understanding of all aspects of Ag Economics, including tariffs and trade, so I decided to get an expert opinion. I asked my friend and fellow teacher Dr. Barry Flinchbaugh, national expert in all issues impacting agriculture, to comment. He said, “No country ever wins a trade war, going back to biblical times, because export sales are like sleep—once you lose the sales they are gone and you cannot get them back.''
What farmers need to understand is that they and their farm organizations are now in a position of strength to put political pressure on the Trump Administration. They should make it clear they are not patiently waiting for the markets to come back. Now they have political leverage. They are part of his base. Speaking up now, they can communicate economically they have no choice but to support former Republican Governor Weld of Massachusetts, currently the only Republican challenger to Trump’s 2020 campaign. He understands these economic realities and pledges to lift unwise tariffs and focus on trade deals that are mutually beneficial.
The same is true for our Congressional delegation. Farmers should expect stronger protests from their representatives to this Administration regarding the negative impact on agriculture, and especially when the President's own Secretary of Agriculture calls farmers whiners. President Trump knows Republican members of Congress want it both ways. Telling their farming constituents that they are concerned is not real pressure that will make this Administration change course. Our entire Agriculture sector needs to be communicating to the Administration that if there is not an immediate reversal and new commitment to positive trade policy, they will have a hard time defending this President in Ag country.
Let me make this clear. If farmers don’t cause this administration any political pain, their silence on the tariffs will most likely assure that tariffs stay in effect longer and become more frequent. If that happens, the result will be serious long-term damage to the Agricultural economy. In states like Kansas, that pain extends farther given the significance of our Ag sector to the overall statewide economy. Adding further to this misery is that much of our manufacturing sector is facing similar results from these tariffs. And more damage can come down the road. Remember, once you lose a buyer, it's almost impossible to get them back.