Iowa Senate News Release
Sen. Rita Hart: (563) 210-1252
For Immediate Release: April 12, 2018
Iowa Senators stand up for Iowa farmers and Iowa’s economy
“…proposed tariffs will have a negative impact on Iowa’s agricultural economy…”
DES MOINES – Twenty-one Iowa State Senators are asking President Donald Trump to protect Iowa farmers, businesses and communities as he makes trade policy changes.
The letter urges the President “to reconsider the economic costs and benefits of your plan to impose new tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. It’s clear to most observers that the inevitable retaliation to proposed tariffs will have a negative impact on Iowa’s agricultural economy by causing other countries to levy burdensome tariffs against Iowa farm products.”
Senator Rita Hart of rural Wheatland wrote the letter and invited all Senators to sign it.
“My husband and I farm near Wheatland. We know firsthand that mistakes in trade policy can have severe consequences on Iowa farmers, small businesses and rural communities,” said Hart, the former chair of the Senate Economic Growth Committee.
The letter noted that “Iowa is the second largest agricultural export state, shipping $14 billion of products abroad last year.” It also drew attention to the fact that proposed U.S. tariffs increasing the cost of imported steel would also hurt Iowa manufacturers. The letter specially mentions Sukup Manufacturing in Sheffield, Iowa. The plant there has 600 Iowa employees and uses 1 million pounds of steel each week to make grain bins and dryers.
The letter was signed by every Democratic member of the Senate and by Independent Senator David Johnson.
FULL TEXT OF LETTER:
April 12, 2018
Dear President Trump:
Iowa’s prized humanitarian Norman Borlaug said: “Civilization as it is known today could not have evolved, nor can it survive, without an adequate food supply.”
Iowa has a rich history of feeding the world and we need to continue to feed the world without barriers. Iowa is the leading national producer of corn, soybeans, hogs, cattle, and eggs. Iowa is the second largest agricultural export state, shipping $14 billion of products abroad last year. And it’s important to note that 31 percent of farm income comes directly from exports.
For those reasons, we urge you to reconsider the economic costs and benefits of your plan to impose new tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. It’s clear to most observers that the inevitable retaliation to proposed tariffs will have a negative impact on Iowa’s agricultural economy by causing other countries to levy burdensome tariffs against Iowa farm products.
Iowa farmers have already faced several years of low commodity prices.
Any reduction in demand would be devastating, making a bad situation worse.
The potential beef tariff threatens Iowa farmers, who have just gotten back into the Chinese market after a long absence. U.S. beef exports to China totaled more than 3,000 metric tons in the last half of 2017, valued at $31 million.
It’s worth noting that Iowa leads the nation in ethanol production, which results in 42,000 Iowa jobs. In addition, China imports about 60 percent of global soybean trade.
A trade war – even in the short term – creates the potential for a long-term loss of global market share because other countries will move quickly to fill the void if Iowa’s agriculture products become uncompetitive.
Manufacturing is the second largest driver of Iowa’s economy. The state economy is heavily dependent on the 3,000-plus factories across the state, many of whom are dependent on the farm economy. For example, the 600 employees of Sukup Manufacturing make iconic grain bins and dryers in rural Sheffield, Iowa, using 1 million pounds of steel each week.
We urge you, Mr. President, to reconsider this strategy because of the negative consequences on Iowans who farm, those who live in rural communities, and those whose livelihoods depend on products whose markets are threatened by a trade war with China.
Senator Chaz Allen (D)
Senator Tony Bisignano (D)
Senator Joe Bolkcom (D)
Senator Nate Boulton (D)
Senator Tod R. Bowman (D)
Senator Jeff Danielson (D)
Senator William A. Dotzler Jr. (D)
Senator Robert E. Dvorsky (D)
Senator Rita Hart (D)
Senator Robert Hogg (D)
Senator Wally E. Horn (D)
Senator Pam Jochum (D)
Senator David Johnson (I)
Senator Kevin Kinney (D)
Senator Jim Lykam (D)
Senator Liz Mathis (D)
Senator Matt McCoy (D)
Senator Janet Petersen (D)
Senator Herman C. Quirmbach (D)
Senator Amanda Ragan (D)
Senator Rich Taylor (D)