Anti-tariff campaign hopes to help South Dakota farmers


President Donald Trump’s administration has pledged $12 billion in aid to help farmers fight any adverse economic impact of tariffs.   File photo

Farmers for Free Trade, a nonprofit advocacy organization, has launched a multi-million dollar advertising campaign to spread awareness of the negative effect trade tariffs are having on middle America.

For many farmers throughout the country, the recent announcement of the "Tariffs Hurt the Heartland" campaign spearheaded by Farmers for Free Trade is a welcome announcement. 

Scott VanderWal, South Dakota Farm Bureau president, said American farmers are facing what’s akin to a “perfect storm,” citing the drastic drop in income over the years and other issues.

“Since 2014, the American farmer’s income has fallen 52 percent,” VanderWal said. "Now, farmers are dealing with big shifts in the commodity markets because of trade and tariff threats. Throughout history, some farmers have survived by expanding their operations. Today, that option is nearly impossible for many because of the lack of qualified labor."

VanderWal also outlined the fact that as farmers throughout the country approach harvesting season, the trade wars and disputes further complicate things.

"The grain markets have reacted very, very negatively,” VanderWal said. "Soybeans have lost $2 a bushel since late May. Corn is down about 65 cents. That's real dollars to those of us that are actually selling those commodities."

Recently, President Donald Trump’s administration announced $12 billion in aid designed to help farmers fight tariffs, to which VanderWal expressed his appreciation. However, he said open markets would provide a more holistic solution.

Farmer and Longview Farms owner Scott Henry echoed VanderWal’s concerns, stating the necessity to start a campaign that spoke directly to those who could impact policy and international trade matters.

“As fourth-generation corn and soybean farmers, our family understands what’s needed for American agriculture to continue to flourish — and it’s not bailouts," he said. "We thought it was necessary to start a campaign like 'Tariffs Hurt the Heartland,' because it didn’t feel like the president could hear us. Clear, consistent policy that respects exports and international trade is the best thing for our work."

Henry also said policy interference and restricted market access have hampered innovation and long-term growth.

The "Tariffs Hurt the Heartland" nationwide campaign consists of television, radio and print advertising designed to tell the story of today’s average American farm owner, factory worker and consumers, and how trade tariffs affect them.

“This coordinated campaign will tell the real-life stories of American farmers, manufacturers, factory workers, and families who have been hurt by the on-going trade war through loss of jobs, cancelled contracts, and increased prices,” said Brian Kuehl, executive director of Farmers for Free Trade.

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