U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Richard Wilkins, president of the Delaware Farm Bureau, joined a bipartisan group of senators and business owners in Washington on Feb. 6 to discuss the negative impacts of President Trump’s trade policies on Delaware and the nation’s agricultural community.
Carper said, “In Delaware, shipments of steel and aluminum are the fourth largest import cargo arriving at the Port of Wilmington. And while we may be a small state, Delaware has the highest value of agricultural products produced per acre in the country. Haphazardly slapping tariffs on these foreign products has senselessly put Delaware’s economy, soybean farmers and manufacturers in the crosshairs of a trade war where everyone loses… I’m hopeful that with senators from both sides of the aisle speaking up, we can prevent further damage from being done. It’s time for the President to start putting America first.”
Wilkins talked about the effect of the tariffs on his own operation:
“Last year, when the tariffs were placed on steel and aluminum imports into this country, our trading partners retaliated by placing tariffs on U.S. goods, including soybeans, going into China. That started a slide in the value of one of the commodities that I produce – soybeans — of more than 20 percent.
“China is buying dramatically fewer soybeans from the United States. They are not only seeking supplies from other nations, they also discovered they do not need as much soy meal in livestock rations as they once were. They will look for alternative proteins. That has long term implications. If they discover they do not need a high inclusion rate of soybean in their rations, we will never get that demand back again.
“Last year we produced over 4 billion bushels of soybeans in the United States. Today the carryout is projected to be nearly 1 billion bushels. So 20 to 25 percent of last year’s crop will still be sitting in silos and storage bins when we begin harvesting this year’s crop.
“This burdensome excess supply will hurt the prices of our commodities for the next several years to come. It will create permanent damage with the trading relationships we have built in overseas markets.”
Wilkins urged the legislators: “Please rescind these tariffs today.”