Trade tariff tiff hits farmer, consumers in the pocketbooks


A couple of storms stir things up. In Columbia, we stayed on alert last Wednesday as media tracked a flurry of tornados.

The storm sirens sounded just at bedtime. I turned on my portable radio to flip between a nearby station and regional radio with Doppler radar.

It’s been a long time since being so close to twisters. When spotters told of a touchdown at Midway, I grew concerned, my apartment has no storm cellar. I got dressed and retreated to the bathroom. That space might protect from flying glass.

I couldn’t use my laptop computer or cellphone. Both are connected to the MU domain, which had just shut down for a major overhaul. What timing for geeks to close connections.

By the end, funnels avoided going through town. After three hours, I tuned out and went to bed. I missed mile-by-mile tracking of a big storm that hit Jeff City I learned in newspapers, later.

Meanwhile a media storm brewed with stories of farmers hit by an unjust trade war with China brought on by tit-for-tat tariffs. A whim by our president continues to bring financial hurt to farmers.

American policy makers learned a century ago the futility of tariffs and trade wars. Personal power joust between our president and China’s leader got out of hand. Tariffs didn’t work in the first use by Trump. Now it proves worse in a second year.

National media became involved big time with breaking news of $16 billion “bailout” for farmers.

Through the first tariff hits, farmers stayed relatively quiet. This time, they became articulate. About a week ago they unleashed joint releases, pointing out tariff follies and harms. In his report of “relief” you learn Trump didn’t read those appeals. Trump assured farmers the $16 billion aid comes from billions paid by China on tariffs Trump imposed on their exports. In return, China stopped buying our farm products

Long ago, U.S. consumers learned they pay for tariffs. That means higher prices at our big box stores and other outlets.

A friend bought a washer-dryer set, costing way more than expected. Checking showed that each cost $86 in tariff fees for metal used.

If tariff money doesn’t arrive, the U.S. must borrow money to pay farmers. Yep, borrowed money will come from China, our banker for our growing debt. That debit falls on middle-class taxpayers.

Our president zips from one homemade financial crisis to the next without considering Mid-West states hit hardest. Missouri, a farm state, takes a big hit. Soybeans, pork and beef lost free trade in China’s retaliations to Trump tariffs.

For the first time, I’m seeing these stories in major news outlets: New York Times, Wall Street Journal and even Yahoo Finance.

Last week a NYT reporter visited a Midwest soybean farmer. The farmer said he lost $40,000 when selling his beans just when Trump tweets his tariffs and China quit buying beans.

This spring Missouri beef herd owners selling replacement heifers at Show-Me-Select sales suffered low prices. Before two sales, Trump tweets triggering stock market plunges and drops in livestock prices. With uncertainty, bidders spent less. That cost producers about $200 less per heifer.

Trump’s bailout can’t pay those hit hardest. All will get some. The whole $16 billion won’t go to farmers. Some of the money goes to food programs.

But, we know the president doesn’t track ideas for more than a day. He rants against socialism at a rally; then applies socialistic payments to farmers.

Media stories tell of a Republican senator comparing Trump’s socialism to a Russian farm program. We know Trump envies Putin’s programs where government controls trade not free-enterprise farmers.

There’s also a story of Purdue University poll showing 28 percent of farmers still believe Trump.

Oh, well, Trump will go back to being a big real-estate dealer just as before becoming a TV star, then played a role as a president

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