Don’t let tariff war hurt more MS farmers

Published 8:13 pm Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Mississippi loves chicken, as evidenced by the number of poultry houses throughout the state. There are more than 1,400 farms statewide, and the industry contributed $2.5 billion to the state’s economy last year, according to the Mississippi Farm Bureau.

But some of those chicken dollars are at risk due to President Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum. South Africa, which buys tons of U.S. chickens, is threatening to end the duty-free import of poultry unless Trump exempts the country from his metal tariffs, The Associated Press reported.

A group of senators from chicken-producing states — Democrat Chris Coons of Delaware and Republicans Johnny Isakson of Georgia and Roger Wicker of Mississippi — have detailed their concerns in a recent letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, AP reported Wednesday.

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South Africa has little reason to exempt U.S. chicken from taxes if its steel and aluminum is not exempt from Trump’s tariffs.

The chicken trouble is another example of how Trump’s tariffs could negatively impact Mississippi farmers. Already, soybean farmers are feeling the impact of his tariffs.

South Africa is not the largest importer of U.S. chicken, but every market matters when it comes to overall impact the poultry industry has on Mississippi and other poultry-producing states.

Trump uses tariffs as a bargaining tool in his attempts to negotiate better trade deals, and some of those may be effective. But some of those tariffs will hurt Mississippi farmers.

We encourage Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith to speak with Trump about the impacts his trade decisions have on her state’s farmers. As a former ag commissioner, she knows well the realities of his tariffs.

We understand the political realities she is facing as election day approaches, but she can oppose some of his tariff decisions without abandoning him or his supporters — whom she will need Nov. 6.