Central Texas farmers voice opposition to proposed tariffs

Posted at 7:00 PM, Apr 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-24 21:31:34-04

Central Texas farmers are concerned proposed tariffs for American and Chinese exports could hurt their business in a big way.

On Tuesday, the U.S. proposed to impose tariffs on 1,300 Chinese goods after an investigation by the United States Trade Representative revealed China's intellectual property theft costs the U.S. billions of dollars every year.

A day after, China fired back stating it planned to put tariffs on 106 U.S. products, including soybeans. 

Fleming Grain and Cattle Owner Robert Fleming said soybeans impact the prices of his corn and wheat crops.

"One night ago, corn fell 10 cents, so a person like me who has 100,000 bushels of corn in storage, I lost $10,000 overnight so that creates issues and fear in the market," Fleming said.

Fleming who owns farms in Bell, Freestone, Falls and Limestone County is acting quickly before the prices drop.

“I can’t say I’m putting anything on hold. I’m getting more aggressive on commodity sales. Me, personally I think we have a downtrend in commodities coming," Fleming said.

Fleming worries the situation could turn into a trade war between the two countries.  

“Agriculture always takes the brunt of a trade war," Fleming said.

The Texas Farm Bureau also opposes to the new tariffs due to concerns of a trade war.

"A trade war doesn't help anybody. It's very negative. Right now, I'll tell you that commodity prices are down by 50 percent of what they were four years ago... so having a disruption in trade is very concerning for us," Director of Government Affairs Regan Beck said.

Beck said the TFB agrees if other countries are doing unfair practices, the issue should be corrected. However, he worries about the future of agriculture. 

"It’s just a very difficult time for them to go on and stay afloat, stay in business," Beck said.

If the tariffs do go through, Beck said he is hopeful, there will be support for agriculture.

“We have heard from the administration that they are not forgetting about agriculture and they are trying to find some way of safety net to try to help, in case we do have some losses through trade. And we are talking to the administration to make sure that does happen," Beck said. 

President Donald Trump's economic advisor said the proposal of new tariffs is part of the administration negotiation strategy. 

Fleming said he wishes the new tariffs remain a proposal.

“Hopefully, this is an emotional deal and it will correct itself in a few months," Fleming said.

The administration will hold a public hearing for U.S. businesses on May 15.

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