Column: Soybean tariff threatens farmers

Dave Williams

As the looming “trade war” with China continues to dominate the national news, many Michiganians are left to wonder: Does this impact me? As the president of the Michigan Soybean Association, my answer is a strong yes.

If implemented, China’s proposed 25 percent tariff on U.S. soybeans could do irreparable harm to our industry and economy.

Any long car trip through the heart of Michigan will bring you face to face with a local soybean farm. Across our state, Michigan farmers grow nearly 2 million acres of soybeans a year.

Half of the soybeans grown in the United States are exported overseas, and a majority of those exports go to China. That’s why the proposed tariffs are of such concern — a 25 percent tariff on soybean imports to China could drastically reduce our ability to sell Michigan soybeans in the largest market.

And this isn’t just bad news for farmers. Tariffs would impact the whole state economy.

If Michigan farms suffer, so do the companies that manufacture and sell farm equipment, the local communities where farms are located and the businesses that transport agriculture products. We must work together to support free trade policies that prevent damaging tariffs.

The Michigan Soybean Association, and many other agriculture organizations across the state, are working to support fair and open trade policies that will help bring Michigan goods to global markets.

At a time of uncertainty for agriculture producers, pursuing free trade policies will add needed stability. The United States must look at policies that ensure American products and crops remain competitive.

As the snow begins to melt across the state and spring finally arrives, farmers are already working. We need stability in the global marketplace to be able to make important decisions, like what equipment to invest in and even what crops to plant.

It takes time, hard work and sweat to grow the food and commodities we ship across the world. Unfortunately, the trade discussions happening in Washington right now threaten all those efforts.

I hope you will join me in calling on our elected officials to work collaboratively and thoughtfully to ensure the proposed tariffs are never enacted.

We must stand up for Michigan farmers and crops. Without free and fair trade policies, our state’s economy — and all of us — could face serious or unintended consequences.

Dave Williams is president of the Michigan Soybean Association.