PIQUA — With President Donald Trump’s recent tariff plan announcement, local farmers asked how the president’s “trade war” would impact the agricultural industry at the annual Farm Forum at Edison State Community College earlier this month.
An attendee asked Representative Warren Davidson, who hosts the annual event, “How will other nations use U.S. agriculture to fight back against Trump’s new tariffs?”
On March 8, President Trump announced plans to implement a 25 percent tariff on foreign-made steel and 10 percent on aluminum.
“Great question, it’s been an interesting week on that front and trade is on the top of the minds of a lot folks with good reason. Our country was really built because we were great at trade, so if you are going to make America great again, that would mean we trade with everybody,” Davidson said.
Davidson said he is “very concerned” with Trump’s tariff announcement because “they are blanket tariffs.”
“If you put a blanket tariff on everyone in the world for a commodity and you lay out a frame work, but I assume that means that he believes anyone has free, fair and reciprocal trade with the United States of America. That’s not a good sign,” he said. “He talked a lot about trade, so they are all loaded up and ready with their responses and it’s not going to be good for our agricultural commodities. Soy prices will probably go down swiftly if that’s the case out of Asia. There will be other impacts across the markets and it will be very disruptive to our economy. So a lot of the good that has been done in the deregulatory space, with tax policy and everything else, I think will be swiftly damaged.”
Davidson said one of the most concerning statements he’s heard from Trump is “that trade wars are good and easy to win,” which he said he “couldn’t disagree more.”
“While within our party, generally we try to have behind closed door private conversations, I think the time for those private remarks has passed, which is why I’m very direct and open. I think you’ll see a lot of members of Congress be just as direct and open about it,” he said. “I hope we can do something better than what’s on the table right now.”
James Zehringer, the director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, made a comment on how the tariff announcement could impact Davidson’s former family business, West Troy Tool & Machine in Troy. Since being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, Ohio 8th District, Davidson is no longer affiliated with the company, according to the company’s website. The company is now part of Integral Manufacturing, which has services such as metal stamping, plastic injection molding, assembly welding, stamping dies and other products.
“It misses the mark on some of the abuses. They miss the mark by a lot because not only is the tariff only on steel … somebody is just going to stamp the metal in Mexico and send them the component part. There’s not an afterthought about the component that is made out of steel … we are not going to be as protected because there’s not a tariff on the second step, which is the part,” he said. “Aluminum wheels, for example, and beverage cans and all these kinds of things are going to be addressed by the tariff. They actually are potentially going to sell less steel.”
Davidson gave an example about electrical steel and China’s alleged theft of intellectual property to try to take the market away from U.S. companies like AK Steel. Davidson said the tariff doesn’t address “the worst abuses.”
“It is a very big miss in my opinion, especially from the opening salvo of a ‘trade wars are easy to win’ battle plan,” Davidson said in closing.
Yvonne Lesicko, vice president of Public Policy of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, served as the moderator for the question and answer session with Davidson and Zehringer.
John Fulton, PhD, an associate professor at The Ohio State University in the Department of food, agricultural and biological engineering’s College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, also presented information about his research in agriculture precision improvement in the area of input management within agriculture during the annual forum.
Approximately 100 people attended the Farm Forum event.
For more information about Davidson, visit www.Davidson.house.gov or call the Troy office, located at 20 Dotcom Drive, at 937-339-1524.