Farmers could see consequences from new tariffs

Cows are fed on Adam Kuczer's farm in Pulaski on March 8, 2018. (Photo credit: WLUK)

PULASKI (WLUK) -- Since word of President Donald Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs first surfaced, speculation has been widespread on what industries will be affected. Farmers are among those fearing consequences from the new taxes.

“Steel is in our everyday life around here from our farm machinery to our repairs on parts and things,” said Adam Kuczer, a Pulaski farmer.

As if steel weren't already abundant on his Pulaski farm property, Kuczer has been ordering plenty more in the last year. He had 11 structures suffer damage last June when a tornado touched down.

“I'm being told by the vendors that the prices of the buildings are going to go up because we're going to see the price on the steel go up," said Kuczer.

That is just one of the ways new tariffs on imported steel could impact Kuczer's farm.

“If this thing really escalates into an all-out trade war, obviously Wisconsin farmers rely on export markets to first of all maintain prices, but also markets for their products, so that could also have wide-ranging, harmful effect on our agricultural sector as well,” said U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin.

This year, farm incomes are expected to drop to their lowest level since 2006. Kuczer says that makes exports even more important.

“So if our commodity prices do get affected, it will really affect our bottom line and then there will be a lot more serious talks with the banker on how we're going to be able to continue farming,” said Kuczer.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisconsin, also expressed concern about the new tariffs’ potential impacts on farmers.

“I also want an exemption for our European trading partners, so Wisconsin’s manufacturing and farming economy isn’t hurt going forward,” wrote Baldwin in a statement.

The European Union has threatened to tax U.S.-made goods in response to the new tariffs. Those goods include corn, rice, cranberries, peanut butter, and kidney beans.

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