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Trade tariff costs mount

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New data show Americans paid nearly $22 billion in additional tariffs since trade war began.

“Soybean farmers like me are feeling the impacts of the tariff war, and they are unsure if they will be able to make it through another growing season,” Missouri farmer Ronnie Russell said.

Russell, an American Soybean Assn. board member, appeared Wednesday before the House Financial Services Committee's subcommittee on national security, international development and monetary policy to testify on the impact trade and tariffs are having on soybean producers and the larger agricultural economy.

“Older farmers are considering retiring early to protect the equity they’ve built up in their farms, while younger producers are looking at finding other employment. We may also see the shuttering of more businesses in rural communities whose livelihoods depend on the health of the farm economy.”

The 25% retaliatory tariff imposed last July has all but halted shipments to China, which, up until last year, was the largest export destination for U.S. soybeans. In 2017, China purchased $14 billion worth of U.S. soybeans. Now, the tariff has caused immediate and severe damage to the price of U.S. soybeans, which fell from $10.89 to $8.68/bu. last summer.

“Our finances are suffering, and stress from months of living with the consequences of tariffs is mounting. Soybean growers need China’s tariff removed now,” Russell continued. “Long term, what farmers and rural communities need is predictability and certainty, which only comes through maintaining and opening new markets where we can sell our products. While we are working hard to diversify and expand other market opportunities, the loss of the China market cannot be fully replaced.”

Russell concluded his remarks by calling on Congress to urge the Trump Administration to conclude negotiations with China that would offer immediate removal of the soybean tariff. He also asked both Congress and the Administration to finalize and enact the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement to bring a sense of progress and stability back to U.S. soybean growers and rural America.

New data show that Americans have paid nearly $22 billion in additional tariffs since the trade war began, according to Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, a national campaign supported by more than 150 organizations, including those in agriculture.

The data, which are broken down by individual tariff actions, show that American businesses and consumers have paid $15 billion in higher costs due to tariffs on Chinese imports. The numbers run through April 2019, the most recent month available through the U.S. Census Bureau.

The data show that more than 70% of the additional tariffs collected during the trade war have come from Section 301 tariffs on China. Many of those tariffs increased from 10% to 25% on May 10, 2019, which will further balloon the impact on consumers and businesses. Through April, more than $15 billion of total tariffs came from Section 301 tariff actions, $4.6 billion came from steel tariffs, $1.3 billion came from aluminum tariffs and $460 million came from tariffs on solar products and washing machines.

In addition to the rapid rise in import tariffs, the data showed a swift decline in U.S. exports due to the consequences of retaliatory tariffs. In April 2019, exports generally decreased by 2.5% from April 2018 levels. For products specifically targeted by retaliation, exports fell 28% in April, which followed a sharp downward trend over the last 10 months for all products targeted by retaliation.

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