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Americans For Farmers & Families Submit Statement For The Record To U.S. House Committee On Ways & Means On Impact Of Tariffs

Washington, D.C. – In advance of the U.S. House Ways and Means hearing on the economic impact of tariffs, Americans for Farmers & Families today submitted to Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX), Ranking Member Neal (D-MA) and committee members a statement for the record from Casey Guernsey, former member of the Missouri State House and spokesman for AFF’s “Retaliation Hurts Rural Families” initiative.

In the statement, Rep. Guernsey wrote:

We recognize and appreciate President Trump’s commitment to protect American interests through trade.  But farmers and families are beginning to pay the price for his methods. …

“From cutting taxes to rolling back harmful regulations, this administration and members of this committee have been instrumental in propelling America’s economic expansion, putting more money into the pockets of farmers and improving lives for families across the country.

“We ask that this committee stand with the farming community and rural families by ensuring that these economic gains are sustained, and that America continues to be the world’s breadbasket for decades to come.  Americans for Farmers and Families look forward to working with you as a part of that effort.”

Americans for Farmers & Families full statement to the committee here and below.

Written Statement for the Record by Casey Guernsey
Spokesman for Americans for Farmers and Families

Submitted to the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means
April 12, 2018

Chairman Brady, Ranking Member Neal, and Members of the House Committee on Ways and Means, thank you for holding this important hearing on the effects of tariff increases on the U.S. economy and jobs.  As someone who immediately felt the unintended consequences of the Trump Administration’s tariffs on certain steel and aluminum imports, I greatly appreciate your efforts to further examine the issue and identify remedies to help protect America’s jobs, particularly in the agricultural sector, access to markets around the world and economic strength.

My name is Casey Guernsey.  I’m a seventh-generation farmer from Harrison County, Missouri.  Even during my stint in state politics as a member of the Missouri State House, I have spent most of my life working on my family’s farm, which has been raising cattle for more than 150 years.   I’m writing today on behalf of Americans for Farmers and Families (AFF), a coalition of more than 100 members – including the American Soybean Association that is testifying today – advocating for the 43 million American workers supported by the food and agriculture industry.

Our organization’s core mission is to help preserve and modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  However, in light of escalating trade tensions with China, AFF recently launched a new project called “Retaliation Hurts Rural Families,” which is specifically focused on highlighting the impact tariffs could have on communities throughout rural America.

We recognize and appreciate President Trump’s commitment to protect American interests through trade.  But farmers and families are beginning to pay the price for his methods.  In response to Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs, China made good on its threat to levy tariffs on $3 billion worth of U.S. goods, including a 25-percent tariff on pork, a 25-percent on soybeans, and a 15-percent tariff on fruit, nuts and other agricultural products.

This is bad news for America’s food and agriculture exporters and workers.  China has become the largest customer for America’s farm products, buying well over $20 billion per year.  According to a recently-released study from The Trade Partnership, these retaliatory tariffs could cost the U.S. nearly 470,000 jobs, including 24,000 in the agriculture industry alone.  Additionally, the 2018 Farm Forecast reports that net farm income in inflation-adjusted dollars is at its lowest level since 2002.  Retaliatory action only expedites this decline.

Despite talks between the United States and China, threats of even more tariffs have continued.  These countermeasures will have crippling consequences for America’s food and agriculture industries, which stand to lose thousands more jobs, millions more customers and billions more dollars as a result of these actions.  And unfortunately, promises of “compensation” cannot reverse the damage to our industries and communities.  Securing a better NAFTA deal will.

As China continues to target America’s food and agriculture industries – closing off access to major markets, threatening jobs and harming rural families – our message to this committee, Congress and the administration is simple: it is more critical now than ever to finalize a modernized NAFTA that will further enhance our ability to sell home-grown goods to customers around the world, while keeping prices lower, paychecks higher and creating more jobs in the United States.

NAFTA’s contribution to our economy cannot be overstated.  Under this important agreement, U.S. food and agriculture exports have more than quadrupled and account for 25 percent of American exports.  NAFTA has helped to grow domestic jobs and supported $127 billion in annual economic activity.  And in 2016 alone, the U.S. exported $43 billion worth of agricultural products to our NAFTA partners.  There is no doubt that America’s farmers and rural communities have benefited greatly from this agreement.  Now, President Trump has an opportunity to make it even better and deliver the certainty we desperately need to keep our farms afloat and maintain our contribution to the U.S. economy.

From cutting taxes to rolling back harmful regulations, this administration and members of this committee have been instrumental in propelling America’s economic expansion, putting more money into the pockets of farmers and improving lives for families across the country.

We ask that this committee stand with the farming community and rural families by ensuring that these economic gains are sustained and that America continues to be the world’s breadbasket for decades to come.  Americans for Farmers and Families look forward to working with you as a part of that effort.

Thank you for the opportunity to submit our thoughts today.

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