To the editor:
Our small and family farms across Wisconsin are doing their best to succeed, but bad policies and red tape are throwing a wrench into the gears of their operations. Instead of supporting growth in our farms by opening new markets and making a push for more exports, President Donald Trump is creating trade policies that do more harm than good.
Earlier this month — over the objections of his own staff, trading partners, businesses and agriculture groups alike — the president announced 25 percent tariffs on steel and 10 percent tariffs on aluminum. This shortsighted decision will raise the cost of farm equipment, eliminate jobs and be the grounds for retaliation by the trading partners we rely on to sell our home-state exports like cranberries, soybeans and dairy.
U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has made comments that show our Wisconsin farmers are being used as pawns in the larger trade war. I have asked Secretary Perdue to clarify these comments and release his plans to help support our family farmers in advance of retaliatory measures taking effect. Additionally, I have called for rigorous congressional oversight in both North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiations and the proposed tariffs.
Everyone loses in a trade war. This would be the beginning, rather than the end, of a chain reaction of retaliation which would make American products less competitive abroad. Our trade policies must focus on doing no harm to Wisconsin’s agriculture community, which contributes $88.3 billion to our local and state economies annually and provides jobs to over 11 percent of the state’s workforce.
Ultimately, it is clear to farmers all across western and central Wisconsin that in order to grow and thrive, we must find new markets to sell to, not limit our potential reach. As discussions around the 2018 Farm Bill and new tariffs continue, I will fight for our small and family farmers and work to create growth — not limitations.
U.S. Rep. Ron Kind