President Trump announced on March 1 that he would impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, a proposal that would apply to all countries.
United States Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines as well as Representative Greg Gianforte responded to the proposal and the effects the tariffs may have on Montana agricultural producers.
According to Tester, the tariffs would have two impacts.
“There’s a potential retribution that could happen with tariffs that might impact grain and there’s the uncertainty that it causes,” Tester said. “I know there’s some talk that Canada might not be a part of the tariffs, that would help if that’s the case.”
Although Senator Daines is waiting for more details, he said ensuring farmers, ranchers, workers, and small business owners are able to compete on a level-playing field is critical to Montana jobs.
“We should avoid imposing broadly-applied tariffs because they are a tax on families, small business, and consumers and we invite retaliatory tariffs from other countries.”
Representative Gianforte agreed that free and fair trade is crucial for Montana.
“When there are unfair trade practices, we should level the playing field just like we have with Canadian lumber but no one wins with trade wars,” Gianforte said. “Foreign markets are critically important to Montana’s ag producers and we need to keep them open.”
As for the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee, executive vice president Collin Watters explained the concerns many domestic food manufacturers who depend on aluminum and steel in their processes may have.
“Brewers use a lot of aluminum and Montana barley farmers rely on those brewers to buy their barley,” he said. “So if the cost of beer increases, maybe consumption would decline and then that trickles back to the farmer.”
The proposal includes a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports.