Escalating trade tensions upset American farmers

Global Business

Some U.S. farmers say they’re being punished as a result of the global trade war. The story is front page news especially in the state of Iowa, one of the country’s leading agricultural regions.

CGTN’s Dan Williams reports.

The golden domes of the Iowa State Capitol building dominate the Des Moines skyline. The city is an important political destination. It’s the site of the first U.S. presidential caucuses. Year-round, it’s a hub for Iowa’s huge agricultural industry.

The decision by the Trump administration to impose tariffs on multiple countries has led to retaliatory tariffs on a range of goods including farm products. Many farmers here find themselves on the frontline of the trade dispute.

For the local news channel, the tariff story has become a consistent news theme, especially for the community. “When you have a story with that kind of impact, it is something that you are really paying attention to. You are covering it. Anytime something crops up, you are dedicating a reporter to that to make sure you are out in the field and you can talk about something that is really going to impact a lot of people’s bottom line in the state.” Says Ben Oldach, a reporter with Iowa’s Channel 13 news.

Tariff stories dominate the airwaves of a specialized Iowa Agri-Business radio show.

Reporter Dustin Hoffman said there is a real sense of gloom among many farmers.

“You know it is difficult when you see this coming. And you see more tariffs are being proposed or you see that we are walking away from a negotiating table again. And you know you have to give that news that is not necessarily good to the farmers,” Hoffman said.

Although many farmers remain concerned about the tariffs, it’s perhaps too soon to measure the potential impact to other sectors of the economy. But journalists, such as Bill Petroski of the Des Moines Register says that could soon change.

“There’s going to reach a point where the downturn of the farm economy is going to start farmers to lose their farms and the concern is this could be a very negative impact upon farmers and that could have a ripple effect throughout the state,” Petroski said.

Although the state voted for Donald Trump in 2016, Petroski said what happens to farmers could make a difference at the polls.

“I definitely think it could have an impact upon the midterm elections and if things turn bad, it could have a very negative consequence. If things don’t start improving it definitely won’t help Republicans.”

As reporters across the Midwest continue to file tariff stories, many farmers here are simply hoping for a good news day and soon.