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Farm Groups Join Business Lobbies in Calling for Steel, Aluminum Tariffs to End


A number of farm groups joined a larger business effort to urge the Trump administration to end the tariffs on steel and aluminum from Mexico and Canada.

In a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the 45 industry groups said that companies dependent on metals from Canada and Mexico have been hurt by the tariffs, as have U.S. farm exporters.

The U.S. imposed a 25% tariff on steel last June, along with a 10% tariff on aluminum imports, including imports from Canada and Mexico. Both countries retaliated.

The letter noted: “For many farmers, ranchers and manufacturers, the damage from reciprocal trade actions in the steel dispute far outweighs any benefit that may accrue to them from the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, (USMCA). The continued application of metal tariffs means ongoing economic hardship for U.S. companies that depend on imported steel and aluminum, but that are not exempted from these tariffs. Producers of agricultural and manufactured products that are highly dependent on the Canadian and Mexican markets are also suffering serious financial losses.”

The National Pork Producers Council posted the letter and said that time would be better spent trying to get congressional approval of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement to succeed the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Jim Heimerl, a pork producer from Ohio and NPPC president, said: “The metals tariffs are undermining the ability of the private sector to lobby for passage of the USMCA deal. For many sectors, the duties are a hair-on-fire issue that is draining resources that otherwise would be focused on passage of the USMCA.”

Pork faces a 20% tariff going into Mexico. According to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes, the Mexican tariff is costing producers $12 per animal, meaning industrywide losses of $1.5 billion annually.

Among other groups signing it were the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), North American Meat Institute (NAMI), U.S. Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Grains Council, U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF), United Egg Producers and United Fresh Produce Association.

Expectations after the USCMA talks concluded were that the metals duties would be lifted on Canada and Mexico. Lawmakers, including new Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, are pressing the administration to lift the duties. Grassley said he would use his chairmanship to work toward approval of USMCA but added, “Lingering Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada and Mexico” must be addressed.

Letter to Ross and Lighthizer on tariffs: http://nppc.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/US-Metals-Letter-FINAL.pdf

Source: Jerry Hagstrom, DTN

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