President Donald Trump’s move to slap tariffs on imported steel and aluminum has been opposed by Nebraska farm groups, but the former state agriculture director defends it.
Gov. Pete Ricketts says he told Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue Nebraska farmers need trade.
“And that if we are going to continue to grow agriculture we have to have access to international marketplaces. As we’ve discussed, 95% of the world’s consumers lie outside our borders,” Ricketts tells reporters covering the Governor’s Ag Conference in Kearney.
Ricketts says some Nebraska businesses might benefit from the president’s action, but he insists most will be hurt once other countries retaliate.
Former Agriculture Director Greg Ibach finds himself in a different position now, with a different perspective. Ibach works for Perdue as USDA Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs as part of the Trump Administration.
Ibach defends the Trump trade strategy.
“The end game is clear,” according to Ibach. “We want better trade deals. We want a level playing field when we try to send our goods to other countries.”
Ibach points out farm groups have also complained for years about the uncertainty of some foreign markets, which will welcome American agricultural products only to throw up obstacles or impose tariffs. Ibach assures those at the agriculture conference that the Trump Administration understands the importance of trade to agriculture and simply wants to better position the country in trade talks.
The president imposed a 25% tariff on steel and 10% on aluminum. Trump exempted Canada and Mexico from the tariffs. The United States is in negotiations with the two countries on a modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Ken Anderson with Brownfield Ag News contributed to this story.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]