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News Archive

Month: July 2018

ICYMI: Farmers Want Free Trade, Headlines Across the Country Make Clear that Farmers Need the Trade War to End

President Donald Trump’s trade war is causing long-lasting harm to America’s farmers and manufacturers. Last week, the United States Department of Agriculture announced a $12 billion spending plan to offset a portion of the economic damage caused by tariffs for certain farmers. The response from America’s heartland was clear: farmers and manufacturers want free trade, not temporary spending.

KCCI-DES MOINES: ‘The First Real Sign That an Important Part of Trump’s Base of Support Is Turning Against Him’

“At the same time that President Donald Trump visited Iowa on Thursday, anxious farm groups are fighting back and going after the controversial tariffs with a new multimillion-dollar ad campaign. The commercials take aim at Trump and his advisers for hurting farmers and manufacturers, the first real sign that an important part of Trump’s base of support is turning against him.” (KCCI, 7/26/18)

GOSHEN NEWS: ‘Hoosier Farmers Want Quick Wrap Up to Trade War’

“But even with that promised financial help, many farmers are expressing a strong desire for the administration to wrap up its trade disputes.. According to Christopher Hurt, an agricultural economist at Purdue University, that precipitous price decline has created a very difficult situation for farm families worried about paying their bills and getting loans from the bank.” (Goshen News, 7/27/18)

BROWNFIELD AG NEWS: ‘Iowa Farmer Says Trump Aid Package Won’t Allow Ag to Flourish’

“A central Iowa farmer and member of Farmers for Free Trade says the aid package proposed by the Trump Administration does little to address his concerns. Scott Henry of Nevada tells Brownfield bailouts won’t allow agriculture to flourish. ‘We as farmers would like to see the focus be more on trying to find and create new markets rather than create restrictions on existing markets.’” (Brownfield Ag News, 7/27/18)

KCRG-CEDAR RAPIDS: ‘Iowa Farmers Worry About Trade War, Wary of Aid Package’

“The president of the Iowa Farmers Union called Trump’s approach ‘extremely reckless,’ and Kim Reynolds, the Republican governor up for re-election warned that ‘nobody wins in a trade war.’” (KCRG, 7/28/18)

WASHINGTON POST: ‘Trump’s Trade Rhetoric Does Not Match Reality for Farmers’

“President Trump is over-promising to farmers as his administration looks primed to under-deliver.  The expectations mismanagement sets up a reckoning with a key voting bloc that is already divided on the president’s push to rip up trade alliances in search of better terms.” (Washington Post, 7/30/18)

THE ATLANTIC: ‘American Farmers Are Still Worried About Trump’s Trade War’

“But the play doesn’t seem to be working as well as the administration might like. So far, both the aid package and Wednesday’s announcement that the European Union will increase imports of American soybeans have been met with lukewarm responses from farming communities across the country, including in key swing states.” (The Atlantic, 7/28/18)

FORTUNE: ‘Why Farmers Have the Most to Lose From Trump’s Trade War’

“Nothing could be worse for farmers than a trade war. If other countries impose tariffs on U.S. soybeans, pork, or orange juice, it is a dagger in the heart of the business of being a farmer. …Hopefully our farmers won’t be silenced by $12 billion and keep the pressure on Trump to end his trade war. They may be the only reasoned voice he will listen to.” (Fortune, 7/27/18)

REUTERS: Spending Plan ‘Will Do Nothing’ To Rebuild Markets

“The $12 billion aid package Trump announced this week to offset damage to farmers from the trade war could potentially replace some short-term income losses, but it will do nothing to rebuild any market share seized by foreign competitors, said Bill Schiek, economist for the Dairy Institute of California.” (Reuters, 7/27/18)

UPI: ‘For Many Farmers, This Is a Bad Sign’

“The Trump administration’s $12 billion farm aid package is a sign to many in the agricultural sector that the administration does not foresee an end to the escalating trade war … ’You don’t create an aid package like this if you don’t think the damage is already done and not easily reversed,’ said Chad Hart, an economist with Iowa State University. ‘This is definitely an indication that the administration sees the tariffs playing out through 2018.’ …For many farmers, this is a bad sign.” (UPI, 7/27/18)



ICYMI: FFT Iowa Farmer Discusses Tariffs Hurting the Heartland during Trump Visit

FFT member Scott Henry says “Soybean prices have nosedived…these policies are hurting us,” on Des Moines local news after President Trump travels to the region to attempt to hold back farmer anger

Yesterday, Iowa farmer and FFT member Scott Henry of LongView Farms discussed his reasons for joining Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, a campaign that highlights the stories of rural Americans like Mr. Henry who are suffering the economic pain of the trade war. The campaign is focused on showing the real-life impacts tariffs are having on American farmers, manufacturers, workers, and consumers.



Farmers for Free Trade Launches Tariffs Hurt the Heartland

Multi-million Dollar Campaign Will Tell the Story of the Farmers, Factory Workers, and Consumers Paying the True Cost of Tariffs

Campaign will include TV, digital, radio, and print advertising across the country, will highlight the real-life stories of tariff pain, will organize town hall meetings in communities across the country and will push for an end to the job-killing trade war

Visit to view “Rounding Error” to new 30 second spot now running on national cable networks

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                  CONTACT: [email protected] or  [email protected]

(Washington D.C.) – Farmers for Free Trade, the bipartisan coalition that’s leading farmer opposition to tariffs, announced today the launch of Tariffs Hurt the Heartland. This new, multi-million dollar campaign will highlight the widespread economic pain the trade war causes for middle America, particularly American farmers, manufacturers, workers, and consumers.

The first ad in this new campaign against tariffs highlights the disconnect between those Americans who are suffering the consequences of the trade war and Washington, D.C., where White House trade advisor Peter Navarro recently called the impacts of tariffs merely a “rounding error.” To see the ad, visit

“This coordinated campaign will tell the real-life stories of American farmers, manufacturers, factory workers, and families who have been hurt by the on-going trade war through loss of jobs, cancelled contracts, and increased prices,” said Brian Kuehl, Executive Director of Farmers for Free Trade. “Washington lawmakers are advancing tariffs that cause pain to the very people who drive our economy. That pain will get worse as these policies continue to spur retaliation from other countries. To push back against this advancing trade war, we are going to tell the stories of the jobs, businesses, and consumers who are too often being ignored by the people who make our nation’s policies but fail to consider the real-life cost.”

In addition to paid television, digital radio, digital and print advertising, the campaign will also:

  • Stand up a full time rapid-response media operation to share stories of tariff impacts across the country and oppose trade policies that are harming American families,
  • Host town hall meetings throughout August recess and into the fall to hear directly from Americans who are bearing the brunt of the trade war,
  • Launch an interactive searchable map so that visitors to can see the impacts of tariffs in their states and Congressional districts,
  • Drive the conversation about tariff impacts on social media through infographics, videos and other media highlighting real-life stories of tariff pain.

Tariffs Hurt the Heartland Campaign’s First TV Ad

The campaign’s first advertisement was released today, and will run on Fox News, CNBC, and CNN, as well as in Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, before running in additional states. The 30 second spot, entitled “Rounding Error” includes comments made last Thursday on CNBC by White House Director of Trade Policy Peter Navarro, who said that “the amount of trade that we’re effecting with the tariffs is a rounding error.”

The ad contrasts Navarro’s statement, which the Wall Street Journal editorial board recently called “out of touch,” with headlines from across the country of farmers, factory, workers, consumers, and rural communities who are feeling the pain of the trade war. The ad implores the President to end the trade war.

Farmers for Free Trade is a bipartisan, non-profit campaign to rebuild support at the grassroots level for trade policies that benefit American agriculture. Farmers for Free Trade, which is backed by major ag organizations, businesses and commodity groups in addition to other supporters who are concerned about the consequences of tariffs and retaliation on rural communities. Farmers for Free Trade will be inviting other stakeholders and impacted industry groups in the coming weeks to join the Tariffs Hurt the Heartland campaign.

For more on the campaign visit:





Farmers for Free Trade Statement on President’s Tweet Praising Tariffs

Washington D.C. – Farmers for Free Trade Executive Director Brian Kuehl released the following statement in response to President Trump’s tweet this morning:

“Most farmers in Trump country don’t think tariffs are “the greatest.” Crops don’t grow overnight. Farmers and producers need time and long-term certainty to do their jobs, not constant chaos created by haphazard trade policy. Despite what President Trump tweets, his harmful trade policies are hurting farmers and families across the country.”

Farmers for Free Trade Statement: “Farmers Need Contracts, Not Compensation”

Farmers for Free Trade, the bipartisan coalition working to oppose trade policies that hurt American farmers today released the following statement from Executive Director Brian Kuehl.

“Farmers across America depend on open markets and stable contracts for their livelihood. The best relief for the president’s trade war would be ending the trade war. Farmers need contracts, not compensation, so they can create stability and plan for the future. This proposed action would only be a short-term attempt at masking the long-term damage caused by tariffs..”

“Farmers can and do weather many storms, but this economic cyclone of tariffs is creating long-term, irreversible damage to the heartland. The $20 billion trade surplus in agriculture is due to decades of effort by American farmers who’ve opened new markets and developed world class supply chains. Unfortunately, a one-time check won’t replace the deterioration of long-term contracts and relationships. Nor will it address the many sectors of agriculture impacted – from producers, to grain bin operators, to shippers. Farmers need stable markets to plan for the future. As such, we urge the Administration to take immediate action to stop the trade war and get back to opening new markets.”


U.S. Soybean Farmers thrive with free trade, hurt under tariffs

Washington D.C. – Farmers for Free Trade Executive Director Brian Kuehl released the following statement in response to President Trump’s tweet this morning on farmers and soybean exports.

“The best way President Trump can support and protect American farmers and the agriculture industry is to end this escalating trade conflict. Soybean farmers all across the U.S. are the ones who will end up footing the bill for tariffs, and it directly impacts their business and livelihoods. The U.S. is one of the largest exporters of soybean products, and the reality is that soybean farmers are being hurt, not helped, by tariffs.”

Key Facts:

  • According to the United States Department of Agriculture, soybean exports to China, the country now imposing retaliatory tariffs, have actually seen a 136% increase over the last 10 years.
  • According to the Congressional Research Service, U.S. agricultural exports have mostly been on the rise and a “major contributor to farm income,” particularly since 2005.
  • In 2014, U.S. agricultural exports achieved a record of $152.3 billion, and global demand for U.S. agricultural exports is expected to repeat 2017’s relatively strong value of $140 billion in 2018. (pg. 2)
  • For the past several years, U.S. corn and soybean crops have experienced remarkable growth in both productivity and output. (pg. 3)
  • Farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses are expected to send nearly $143 billion worth of products overseas this year, resulting in a trade surplus of about $21 billion.
  • Agricultural trade has more than tripled over the last 30 years with economic and population growth globally.

Fourth Generation Montana Farmer Michelle Erickson-Jones to Testify for Farmers for Free Trade at Hearing on the Effects of Tariffs on U.S. Agriculture and Rural Communities

Erickson-Jones in testimony to House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee: “There have been very few issues in my career as a farmer that have caused me to lose sleep.  But these tariffs are one of them.”

(Washington D.C.) – Tomorrow, Michelle Erickson-Jones, a member of Farmers for Free Trade will testify at the House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee Hearing on the Effects of Tariffs on U.S. Agriculture and Rural communities. Erickson-Jones, a grains farmer and cattle rancher on a family-owned farm in Broadview, Montana, will highlight the devastating effects retaliatory tariffs will have on America’s rural farmers. In her testimony, Erickson-Jones, who is also a member of the National Association of Wheat Growers Board of Directors, points to the success of rural agriculture and family farms in America, both which are threatened by steel and aluminum tariffs imposed by the Administration and the retaliatory tariffs levied by American trading partners.

“Currently farmers like me are not only struggling to ensure this year’s crop is profitable, but we are also concerned about the long-term impacts to our valuable export markets.”Erickson-Jones says in her testimony before the Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee. “For young and beginning farmers like me the stakes are even higher. We are often highly leveraged, just establishing our operations, as well as trying to ensure we have access to enough capital to successfully grow our operations. Increased trade tensions and market uncertainty makes our path forward and our hopes to pass the farm on to our sons less clear. I hope to pass my farm to my sons and as such urge you to consider   the tolls these tariffs will have on my operation and how it impacts that possibility, and many other family farms, as outlined in my testimony.”

Michelle Erickson-Jones testified at the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) hearing in May 2018 on the ways Section 301 tariffs are already hurting American Farmers. More information on her testimony can be found HERE. Erickson-Jones also appeared in a TV campaign launched by Farmers for Free Trade earlier this year warning about the unintended consequences of tariffs and trade uncertainty. For more on that ad visit HERE.

Michelle Erickson-Jones’s full testimony is below:






JULY 18, 2018

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee. My name is Michelle Erickson-Jones and I am the Co-Owner of Gooseneck Land and Cattle from Broadview, Montana.  I also currently serve as the President of the Montana Grain Growers Association, am on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Wheat Growers and a member of Farmers for Free Trade.  As a fourth generation farmer, it is my honor to testify today on the impacts of tariffs on my farm, my industry and most importantly my community that depends on trade for its livelihood.

American agriculture is a tremendous global marketing success story. We export 50 percent of our wheat and soybeans, 70 percent of fruit nuts, and more than 25 percent of our pork. We are also the top exporter of corn in the world. Exports account for 20 percent of all U.S. farm revenue and we rely on strong commercial relationships in key markets including Canada, Mexico, Japan, the European Union and, of course, China – the second largest market for U.S. agriculture, accounting for nearly $19 billion in exports in 2017.  U.S. agriculture exports also support over 1,000,000 American jobs.  As such, trade is critically important to the U.S. economy and our rural communities.

Farmers across the country depend heavily on the ability to sell our commodities to foreign consumers. We are painfully aware of the prevalence of unfair trading practices used by some countries and we support the Administration’s interest in finding solutions to tariff and non-tariff barriers that impede fair trade. But what I’d like to share with you today are some examples of the impact of tariffs imposed by our own Administration and by the retaliatory tariffs levied by our trading partners. These impacts are felt by farmers such as myself throughout our supply chain, from higher input costs to reduced exports and lower market prices.

In May, I testified at Section 301 hearing at the International Trade Commission.  As I said then and believe more strongly than ever now, “while many rural American families are optimistic about economic growth under the current Administration, there is mounting concern among farmers about trade policies that would reduce access to the export markets they depend on.”

There have been very few issues in my career as a farmer that have caused me to lose sleep.  But these tariffs are one of them.  I’d like to share some of the effects that have directly impacted my farm and family.

The first wave started at the time the Administration imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum.  For me and farmers across the country that translates into increased costs of capital investments.  For example, earlier this year we priced a new 25,000-bushel grain bin to increase grain storage capacity on our farm. The price was 12 percent higher than an identical bin we had built in 2017. As we weighed our options, the bid on bin #2 expired, so we sought a second bid.  This bid was 8 percent higher than the one we received just a few weeks prior – a 20 percent increase total in the cost of the same steel product in just one year.

The bin company attributed the difference in the final bin cost to a significant increase in their cost of steel.  I learned that their domestically sourced steel suppliers had increased their prices to match the price of imported steel which was subject to an additional 25% duty when imported.  As a result of this dramatic cost increase and volatility in the market, we abandoned our grain storage expansion project. The implications of that decision not only harmed my operation, it also hurt my community: a small local construction company lost a project, a U.S. grain bin company missed a sale, and a domestic steel company had one less shipment to send out of their factory.

Another unexpected outcome is something we are living through right now.  Back in January, we built cattle guards for several capital improvement projects we had planned for later in the fall. A neighbor saw the finished product and asked to buy several from us. We agreed because we thought we would be able to utilize the profits for other investments.  Last week I priced the steel needed to replace the cattle guards I had sold.  To my shock, the price of steel had increased 38% – evaporating our profits.  To make matters worse, now we will no longer break even on the project.

These scenarios are playing out across the nation, particularly the states that depend on agriculture. These states depend on healthy agricultural commerce for a robust economy. As our profits evaporate and our ability to spend on rural main street businesses or take weekends away decreases, our other top economies, including tourism and manufacturing, are negatively impacted as well.

While one singular example is a small sum of money in the big picture, adding up those small singular examples shows the real and substantial increase to agriculture and rural main street.

There are countless examples in Montana, where last summer, large portions of my state were on fire.  Just imagine the cost or replacing fencing or other equipment with prices increasing by double digits – at a time of record low prices for agriculture commodities. The impacts on our input costs coupled with increased market volatility and lower farmgate prices have further reduced our already slim margins. According to the USDA Economic Research Service net farm income is expected to drop to a 12-year low, down 6.7% from 2017.

Now allow me to further illustrate the impact of tariffs on our topline – sales – especially in an industry that exports $450 million in wheat to China annually, $65 million of which was from Montana. China is the world’s largest wheat consumer, with a significant trade opportunity in their market. In market year 2016/2017 China was our fourth largest customer, however when China placed a 25% retaliatory tariff against US wheat not one new shipment has been purchased from the US since March, and the last shipment arrived in June.

Wheat growers also understand that China hasn’t been keeping to their trade obligations they agreed to when they joined the WTO, and as such the US has two cases against China for their domestic support programs and their TRQ requirements for wheat, rice and corn. We applaud the Administration for moving forward with these cases and believe this is the proper course of action to hold our trading partners accountable to their trade commitments. We do not, however, support the tariffs which have already hurt many farmers across the US through both the tariff retaliation and domestic decisions as I have outlined.

For Montana, other commodities are also being hurt.  Our producers are already suffering from the 25 percent import tariff on American pork and are bracing for the impacts on beef. Mexico has also targeted these two sectors in response to the steel tariffs.

In addition, these markets that we’ve been growing for decades could be lost to our competitors who do not have tariffs against their products, a fate that could last for years or decades to come. The same can also be said by not seeking or joining new trade agreements, for example when CPTTP is implemented our Canadian and Australian wheat competitors will gain a price advantage in Japan against US wheat, potentially losing our largest wheat market.

Currently farmers like me are not only struggling to ensure this year’s crop is profitable, but we are also concerned about the long-term impacts to our valuable export markets. For young and beginning farmers like me the stakes are even higher. We are often highly leveraged, just establishing our operations, as well as trying to ensure we have access to enough capital to successfully grow our operations. Increased trade tensions and market uncertainty makes our path forward and our hopes to pass the farm on to our sons less clear. I hope to pass my farm to my sons and as such urge you to consider   the tolls these tariffs will have on my operation and how it impacts that possibility, and many other family farms, as outlined in my testimony.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify today.



Farmers for Free Trade Releases Statement from Indiana Soy Farmer and FFT Executive Director as China Trade War Escalates

(Washington, D.C.) – Farmers for Free Trade today released two statements on the coming imposition of Section 301 and corresponding retaliatory tariffs between the U.S. and China.

Statement from Brent Bible, soy and corn producer in Romney, Indiana:

“For soybean producers like me this is a direct financial hit. This is money out of my pocket. These tariffs could mean the difference between a profit and a loss for an entire year’s worth of work out in the field, and that’s only in the near term. Over the long haul, soybean producers are deeply concerned that China will continue to substitute American soy with soy from our global competitors. The losses these tariffs represent can’t and shouldn’t be made up by government programs. Frustration is growing quickly in the heartland, we need this solved now.”

Statement from Brian Kuehl, Executive Director of Farmers for Free Trade:

“The evidence of pain from a now multi-front trade war is multiplying every day. From China canceling soybean orders, to cheese exports to Mexico plummeting, to farm equipment prices rising, the stories of financial loss are now rolling in from farms across America. Today’s actions will only create more nightmare stories of farmer’s livelihoods being squeezed.

“American farmers want trade, not tariffs. They want to compete and win, not be “protected” by Washington D.C. from the foreign markets they’ve dominated for decades. This won’t get solved by subsidies or blank checks. We need this Administration to end the trade war and to open new markets so farmers can get back to doing what they do best: selling made in America ag products across the globe.”

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