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International trade war concerns farmers

New tariffs on agricultural products could impact Iowa economy

Posted: Jun 21, 2018 9:22 PM

HANLONTOWN, Iowa - Words from Washington, D.C. are now having an impact in Iowa and Minnesota, as an international trade war with China heats up.

Last Friday, the U.S. and China started a war of words, with each one targeting the other countries' exports through 25% tariffs on $50 billion in goods. Then on Monday, the Trump administration moved to identify $200 billion in additional Chinese imports to be penalized with 10% tariffs.

Kelly Hansen is the General Manager at POET Biorefining Hanlontown, which operates 26 plants across 7 states. He's seen farmers come through and discuss the ongoing tariff war between the U.S. and other countries.

With China being the top export market for Iowa soybeans, as well as being one of the key markets for corn, he feels for their concerns.

"It's pretty clear that the talk of tariffs, the debate over tariffs, and the back and forth is pretty significant and does impact most of those farmers."

And it's not just China that is enacting tariffs on U.S. exports. Mexico has recently imposed a 20% tariff on imports of U.S. apples, potatoes, and cranberries, while Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced that they will impose tariffs on $12.8 billion worth of U.S. goods in response to the U.S.'s own tariffs on steel and aluminum.

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst released a statement on the tariffs on Tuesday, saying that they are "nothing more than a tax on Iowa farm families and the escalating trade war is putting the livelihoods of our rural communities in the crosshairs."

Hansen believes Iowa politicians may be able to help out with the situation.

"We're very fortunate, in the state of Iowa particularly, to have two strong Senators that are heavily involved in trade and that are well connected with the White House and with the administration. And I have every confidence that they will represent us well."

Senator Ernst and Senator Chuck Grassley met with U.S. Ambassador to China and former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad on Wednesday to discuss trade between the two countries, and the impact the tariffs will have on Iowa's farmers.

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