Arizona farmers feel the effects of a possible trade war with China

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The Trump administration announced a one month extension for aluminum and steel tariffs, but the proposed tariffs on Chinese imports are still up in the air – and it’s having an effect on Arizona farmers.

The proposed tariffs, which would be on items like cotton, beef, soybeans and pork, may cost the U.S. almost 134,000 jobs, including more than 67,000 in just the agricultural sector. The uncertainty has local farmers worried.

“Even though we aren’t technically in a trade war yet, farmers are already feeling the impact of just the talk. Prices of commodities have fallen already, and banks are hesitating on loans,” Stefanie Smallhouse, president of the Arizona Farm Bureau, says. “Farmers are trying to determine what they’re going to plant.”

The possible trade war wouldn’t affect only farmers, it would also hurt Arizona’s economy and consumers. About a quarter of Arizona’s agriculture is exported abroad, and China is the second largest export market.

“Trade’s important to our industry because a lot of our items are perishable,” says farmer and Vice President of the Arizona Cotton Growers Association Kevin Rogers. “We’ve got to get our items to where the people are so we can help feed the people, feed ourselves and stay in business.”

Rogers says that the conversation on trade is a good start, but the gamesmanship has been tough. He says he would like to see it be more consistent, and “hopefully the administration steps up and does the right thing.”

TED SIMONS: THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION ANNOUNCED A ONE MONTH TARIFF EXTENSION ON E-U IMPORTS OF STEEL AND ALLUMINUM AND SHOULD HELP TO AVOID FOR NOW A POTENTIAL TRADE WAR BUT PROPOSED TARIFFS ON CHINESE IMPORTS ARE STILL LOOMING AND COULD HAVE IMPLICATIONS HERE IN ARIZONA AND VANESSA HAS MORE.

VANESSA RUIZ: THANKS, TED A NEW REPORT SAYS THE PROPOSED TARIFFS ON CHINESE IMPORTS COULD COST THE UNITED STATES ALMOST 134,000 JOBS INCLUDING MORE THAN 67,000 JUST IN THE AGRICULTURAL SECTOR. NOW THOSE ARE THE TYPES OF NUMBERS THAT HAVE ARIZONA FARMERS WORRIED. PRODUCER ADRIANA DE ALBA SPOKE WITH PEOPLE INVOLVED IN THE AGRICULTURAL INDUSTRY RIGHT HERE IN ARIZONA AND THEY WERE CLOSELY WATCHING THE TRADE NEGOTIATIONS IN CHINA THIS WEEK.

REPORTER: FOR FOUR GENERATIONS, KEVIN ROGERS AND FAMILY HAVE KICKED THE DIRT IN THE FIELDS AS FARMERS.

SOT: IT HAS BEEN A GREAT LIFESTYLE FOR US AND TO BE ABLE TO GROW UP ON OUR FARMS AND KNOW WHAT WE DO REALLY DOES NOT MATTER IN THE BIG SCHEME IS HEART WARMER.

REPORTER: BUT AS A GROWER OF ALFALFA COTTON AND OTHER EXPORTED GOODS HE FEELS THE I'M PART OF A TRADE WAR

REPORTER: IT IS IMPORTANT IN OUR INDUSTRY BECAUSE OUR ITEMS ARE PERISHABLE AND GET THEM TO THE PEOPLE TO CONTINUE TO HELP FEED THE WORLD FEED OURSELVES AND STAY IN BUSINESS.

SOT: SOME PRODUCTS CHINA IMPOSE TAR HITS ON ARE COTTON BEEF AND SOY BEANS ALL A PART OF THE CULTURAL INDUSTRY AND IT WOULD NOT ONLY HURT FARMERS THE IMPACT WOULD BE FELT BY ARIZONA'S ECONOMY AND CONSUMERS AS WELL. ACCORDING TO THE ARIZONA FARM BUREAU NEARLY 25% OF AGRICULTURAL PRODUCED IN THE STATE IS EXPORTED ABROAD AND CHINA HAPPENS TO BE THE SECOND LARGEST EXPORT MARKET, STEPHANIE SMALLHOUSE IS THE PRESIDENT OF THE ARIZONA FARM BUREAU

REPORTER: WE ARE NOT TECHNICALLY IN A TRADE WAR YET THE FARMERS ARE ALREADY FEELING THE IMPACT OF THE TALK AND COMMODITY PRICES HAVE FALLEN ALREADY BANKS ARE HESITATING ON LOANS WHICH FARMERS RIGHT NOW ARE DETERMINING WHAT THEY ARE GOING TO PLANT.

REPORTER: ROGERS HAS NOT BEEN IMPACTED BY THE TALK OF TARIFFS JUST YET, HE DOES BELIEVE THERE NEEDS TO BE CHANGE WITH GLOBAL TRADE WITH CHINA AND WORRIED ABOUT THE TONE.

SOT: THE CONVERSATION IS GOOD BUT THE GAMESMANSHIP IS A LITTLE BIT TOUGH.

SOT: WE WOULD LIKE IT TO BE A LITTLE MORE CONSISTENT SO THE DISCUSSION IS GOOD, NEEDS TO HAPPEN, WHEN IT AFFECTS THE MARKETS AS MUCH AS IT HAS THAT'S WHEN OUR ANTENNAS GO UP AND WE GO WHOA WE NEED TO TAKE A LOOK AT THIS AND HOPE THE ADMINISTRATION STEPS FORWARD AND DOES THE RIGHT THING.

REPORTER: DESPITE WHAT SMALLHOUSE SAYS IS A THREE-YEAR DROP IN THE FARMING ECONOMY ROGERS AND HIS FAMILY WILL KEEP WORKING THE LAND, GROWING CROPS BOTH FOR THE U.S. AND BEYOND.

VANESSA RUIZ: THE ARIZONA FARM BUREAU SAYS OUR STATE EXPORTS ABOUT 1.5 BILLION DOLLARS WORTH OF FARM AND RANCH PRODUCTS EACH YEAR, THEY ARE HOPING THE ADMINISTRATION TAKES AGRICULTURAL TARIFFS OFF THE TABLE DURING THE TALKS IN CHINA THIS WEEK AND IN FUTURE TALKS ON THE RENEGOTIATIONS OF NAFTA.

TED SIMONS: ALL RIGHT THANK YOU VANESSA AND THAT IS IT FOR NOW I AM TED SHIMONS THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US YOU HAVE A GREAT EVENING.

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Kevin Rogers: Farmer & VP, Arizona Cotton Growers Association
Stefanie Smallhouse: President, Arizona Farm Bureau

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