Agriculture Leaders deliver letter to Secretary Perdue during Michigan visit

EAST LANSING – The Agricultural Leaders of Michigan (ALM) today emphasized the importance of trade and exports for Michigan’s agriculture sector during a visit by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to East Lansing.
“The steel and aluminum tariffs recently announced by the Administration pose a direct threat to many Michigan farmers and rural businesses because the tariffs already are leading to retaliation from our trading partners, including China,” leaders of five commodity and agribusiness organizations wrote in a letter to the Secretary. “We must maintain and expand, not reduce, our export markets – especially during this deeply uncertain time.”

Click here to view the letter delivered today from Michigan agriculture leaders to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.

Many Michigan farmers and agribusiness leaders have expressed concern about potential retaliation against U.S. agriculture products.

“Soybean farmers rely on global export markets to maintain demand for our products, and we remain extremely concerned about export access,” said Matt Stutzman, a Michigan soybean farmer and board member of the Michigan Soybean Association. “The trade dispute with China poses a serious threat for our industry and we urge the administration to resolve this issue in a way that maintains market access for agriculture.”

“The U.S. pork industry exports almost $6.5 billion worth of pork every year, which represents about one-fourth of our production, and these markets are especially important because we export pork products that are not in high demand in the United States,” said Bob Dykhuis, president of the Michigan Pork Producers Association. “Global exports are the fastest-growing aspect of our business. We simply have to trade to ensure strong demand for pork. We encourage the Administration to engage in reasonable dialogue and discussion that keeps markets open for Michigan producers.”

Bruce Sutherland, president of Lansing-based Michigan Agricultural Commodities, said businesses across the supply chain would be impacted by escalating trade disputes.

“Our business and many others are concerned that new tariffs imposed by both the United States and our trading partners could harm agriculture and rural economies by damaging productive trading partnerships,” said Sutherland. “Because we produce more than we can consume in the United States, exports help boost markets for crops and livestock produced on Michigan farms. That’s especially important during an uncertain time in the agricultural economy. Simply put, we have to trade and we have to export.”

According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service (ERS), Michigan agriculture exports total nearly $3 billion annually, supporting nearly 20,000 Michigan jobs.