MI agricultural leaders concerned about tariffs (WLNS – TV) 

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — There has been plenty of talk about how President Donald Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum might impact the auto industry, but leaders in Michigan’s agricultural industry say the tariffs will hurt them too. Especially if other countries impose their own tariffs in retaliation.

“Long term, we’re going to see other countries look at things like dairy, which impacts middle-America. We’re going to see them look at things like soy beans, which impacts middle-America,” Jim Byrum, President of the Michigan Agri-Business Association said.

Several leaders in the agricultural community held a conference call Monday to express those concerns. And Dave Armstrong, President & CEO of GreenStone Farm Credit Services, said farmers are already hurting because net farm income has dropped significantly since 2013 as part of overproduction around the globe.

“In 2013, we had record net farm income of around $124 billion, dropping down to in the mid-$60 million range as late as 2017,” he said.

President Trump said the tariffs will protect United States industry from unfair competition and protect U.S. workers. But the European Union vowed to retaliate if they aren’t exempted from the tariffs. Armstrong said such a move could put some farmers out of business.

“There will be some farmers going out of business whether or not the tariffs are in place. That’s how severe the current downturn is,” he said. “That will only accelerate the situation.”

Mary Keplinski, CEO of the Michigan Pork Producers Association, hopes trade markets are kept open.

“If we lose some of those exports, some of those trade partners, we’ll really lose a lot of the value in our product, and that will really hurt farmers,” she said.

President Trump signed the tariffs Thursday. They go into effect March 24.