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Farmers' Group Ramps Up Ad Campaign Against Tariffs

Farmers voted overwhelmingly for President Donald Trump, but many worry the escalating trade dispute will hurt their bottom line. (Pixabay)
Farmers voted overwhelmingly for President Donald Trump, but many worry the escalating trade dispute will hurt their bottom line. (Pixabay)
August 9, 2018

REDWOOD FALLS, Minn. — China recently announced additional tariffs on U.S. imports, on the same day Farmers for Free Trade said it's stepping up its campaign to encourage farmers to let President Donald Trump know that tariffs are hurting the agriculture industry.

Farmers for Free Trade will spend $800,000 on radio, print, online and television ads across the heartland, including in Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, South Dakota and other states. The bipartisan association's Tariffs Hurt the Heartland campaign also will include town hall events in various states.

Matt McAlvanah, policy analyst with Farmers for Free Trade, said the group is at the Minnesota Farmfest this week to collect stories from farmers that will appear in the advertising campaign.

"Because right now there's just this wave of anecdotes of pain, job loss and plummeting prices,” McAlvanah said. “And so this new campaign is actually going to tell the stories that we are hearing."

On Wednesday the Chinese commerce ministry announced additional tariffs on $16 billion worth of U.S. imports, from fuel and steel products to autos and medical equipment. The president has said tariffs will make the U.S. richer, and claimed that his strategy is "working big time."

The advertising campaign by Farmers for Free Trade is part of a larger $2.5 million national anti-tariff campaign the group launched in July, shortly after the Trump administration announced a $12 billion aid program to farmers affected by trade retaliation.

But McAlvanah said many farmers want trade, not aid.

"Farm country is very much Trump country,” he said. “And we believe that once the administration sees that the very people who supported the president are the people that are being the most hurt, that that will have an impact in their policy-making decisions."

At a Farmfest forum this week, representatives with the Democratic Party questioned the purpose of the tariffs, with some calling them reckless, while Republican representatives said patience is needed, and farmers should trust the president.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - MN