Event at New York State Fair targeted importance of trade and impact of export tariffs on agriculture

New York Farm Bureau and partners at the New York State Fair Thursday pressed for an end to tariffs and the trade war they said is hurting agriculture.

“We understand that trade agreements may need to be updated, but we have to be careful not to damage the relationships that we already have and depend on,” stated state Farm Bureau President David Fisher. “We are encouraging our leaders in Washington to move quickly at getting the parties back to the negotiating table, much like we have seen this week with Mexico, and to move forward on improving trade relations with our partners.”

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball stated, “the tariffs being imposed on our agricultural commodities are compounding an already difficult marketplace and putting New York’s farmers in a precarious situation. Once these markets are lost, we could find it extremely difficult to regain that footing. We have an opportunity here to collaborate with our partners and to call for new free trade agreements and thoughtful, long-term solutions.”

Farm Bureau, state Department of Agriculture and Markets and Farmers for Free Trade joined in highlighting the importance of open markets and encouraged a quick end to the trade war they say is hurting family farms across New York.

While U.S. agriculture has had a trade surplus, the farm economy has not been a bright spot for this country, the groups stated. Net farm income was already down by 50 percent before the trade wars began.

A number of New York commodities — including dairy, soybeans, wine, maple and apples — face retaliatory tariffs in several countries including China, Canada, Mexico and in the European Union. In turn, commodity prices have fallen on agricultural products. Equipment prices are rising due to the steel and aluminum tariffs, and farmers are concerned about losing long established markets as countries turn to other, cheaper sources for their food. These losses, in turn, will impact rural communities that depend on agriculture to support their local economies, stated a release from Farm Bureau.

“When times are tough, this is when this country needs to be looking for new opportunities to expand markets to sell the quality products produced on our farms. The principle agreement announced this week with Mexico is a positive step in the right direction, but ultimately, we will need Canada to complete an effective NAFTA deal,” stated Farm Bureau. Farmers also encouraged a resolution to disputes elsewhere, including China.

Johanna Fox-Bossard of Barbland Dairy in Onondaga County, stated that “since the end of May, following Mexico’s announcement of 25% retaliatory tariffs on US cheeses, the price we receive for our milk has dropped by 14%. To put that into realistic terms for our dairy farm, that is a loss of over $3,000 a day. Farm families like mine and our dairy farming friends across New York State are asking for a quick end to the trade war affecting our families’ livelihoods and our country’s backbone, the American farmer.”

“New York maple producers are concerned about trade from two fronts,” stated Dwayne Hill, owner of Shaver-Hill Maple Farm in Delaware County. “The tariffs in both Asia and Canada mean a potential loss of markets for American made maple syrup as cheaper Canadian maple syrup moves in to fill the void. In addition, the steel and aluminum tariffs have resulted in price hikes for equipment we need to produce maple syrup. My company alone was forced to increase prices 10%, prices that eventually will be passed down to consumers. We need a fix now before there are long lasting repercussions on New York’s maple industry.”