Minnesota Farm Bureau President reacts to tariffs

"We need to negotiate, not withdraw from any trade agreements."

Sloane Martin
July 25, 2018 - 8:07 am

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The Trump administration announced Tuesday a $12 billion aid package for farmers who have been hit hard by the president's tariffs on commodity prices and markets.

"We're going to continue the message that we want trade not tariffs," Minnesota Farm Bureau president Kevin Paap said on with Dave Lee on the WCCO Morning News Wednesday. "We need to negotiate, not withdraw from any trade agreements."

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the plan to borrow money from the U.S. Treasury to pay producers of commodities, including soybeans, for losses due to trade disputes. Minnesota farmers, mostly in the pork and soybean industries, are still dealing with the fallout, even though Paap says they're thankful for the short-term assistance.

"We've lost $1.66 just since March 1 because of this trade uncertainty," he said. "You take that times every bushel per acre, it's over $100 for every soybean acre in the state of Minnesota."

Paap praised the Trans-Pacific Partnership that the U.S. withdrew from January 2017 as something that "would have been so good" for Minnesota agriculture. He says there's concern that if the U.S. is not at the negotiating table, then the remaining countries will move ahead without Minnesota farmers, putting them at a "bigger disadvantage" down the road.

"Every farmer would much rather get their income from the marketplace than they would from the government," Paap said. "We're going to continue to push for getting back these markets that we lost. We've got to get trade deals improved, modernized, but also expand to new trade agreements."