An economic report released by the Nebraska Farm Bureau claims the state’s farmers and livestock producers have lost anywhere from $700 million to $1 billion as retaliatory tariffs have dropped commodity prices, especially for corn and soybeans.
Nebraska Farm Bureau Senior Economist Jay Rempe says the loss in farm income has a ripple effect throughout the state economy.
“But then when you run that through the economy, on the low end you’re talking about an additional $164 million in lost income,” Rempe tells reporters during a news conference. “That’s lost wages, that’s lost income to other sectors of the economy that’s spilling out through the economy and, ultimately, that leads to a loss of jobs of just over 4,000 jobs in the state’s economy.”
That is the low end. On the high end, retaliatory tariffs might have cost the state $242 million in lost labor income and up to 6,000 jobs.
In total, the Farm Bureau estimates the state economy took a $859 million to $1.2 billion hit from retaliatory tariffs. The report does not take into account the $12 billion President Trump has promised farmers to offset losses due to his tough trade stance.
Trading partners with the United States implemented tariffs in response to Trump slapping tariffs on imported steel and aluminum with most of the tariffs targeting United States agricultural goods.
Farm Bureau officials unveiled the report, entitled “A Path Forward on Trade – Retaliatory Tariffs and Nebraska Agriculture” during their annual meeting in Kearney. The report borrows from an analysis completed by Iowa State University. It focuses on the impact tariffs have had on corn, soybean, and pork prices. Beef was not included, because it is the sector of agriculture least affected by the trade wars.
The report used cash prices from Hastings at the beginning of June and compared them with prices after the USDA forecast record crop yields and China raised retaliatory tariffs on soybeans. Corn prices dropped 14 to 21 cents per bushel. Soybean prices dropped 95 cents to $1.54 per bushel. Pork prices also took a hit, falling between $17.81 to $18.80 a head.
The report attempts not only to quantify the losses, but to recommend six changes to improve market access for agriculture:
1. Securing Congressional Approval and Finalization of the U.S., Mexico, Canada Agreement (USMCA).
2. Elimination of U.S. Imposed Steel and Aluminum Tariffs.
3. Swift Action to Secure a Free Trade Agreement with Japan.
4. U.S. Inclusion in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) or Securing Bi-lateral Trade Agreements with CPTPP Nations.
5. Securing a Trade Agreement with the European Union.
6. Use of a Multi-National Approach with U.S. Trade Partners to Address China.
National Affairs Director Jordan Dux says tackling trade issues with China could prove difficult.
“China is the largest one on our list. It’s going to take the longest amount of time,” Dux says. “Obviously, the announcement two nights ago from the president that we have a 90-day pause and we’re working to increase agricultural trade immediately with China was very positive news. We are hopeful, cautiously optimistic that this will move forward, but we need to continue to build that coalition of nations to try to get China back on the right track.”
Ken Anderson, Brownfield Ag News, contributed to this article.