With trade war looming, farmers brace for impact

Ron Gibson is always eager to show off his bustling Spanish onions -- 130 acres of them, to be exact -- on his family...

Posted: Jul 19, 2018 3:47 PM
Updated: Jul 19, 2018 3:47 PM

Ron Gibson is always eager to show off his bustling Spanish onions -- 130 acres of them, to be exact -- on his family's farm just west of Ogden, Utah.

"I like to come over here and just look at them," said Gibson, who is also the president of the Utah Farm Bureau. "It's a break from what's going on over there," he says, gazing to the south side of his property that's been farmed by his family for 149 years. "Over there" is the large building his 1,500 dairy cows are milked in every day.

Times have been difficult for Gibson and dairy farmers across the country the past couple years. Dropping milk prices and a disappearing labor force have forced thousands of US dairy farms to close.

"We have 160 dairy farms in Utah right now," Gibson explained. "It's a very real possibility that by the end of this year, we could have 100."

With looming trade wars on the horizon after President Donald Trump's proposed tariffs, Gibson fears foreign buyers of American milk will find other markets to buy from and never return. The administration has placed numerous tariffs on Chinese goods in recent months, with the latest round announced earlier this month affecting goods such as fruit and vegetables, handbags, refrigerators, rain jackets and baseball gloves.

"I hope that one morning President Trump's just going to wake up and send out that 3:30 in the morning tweet that says tariffs are gone," said Gibson. "But the problem I have is once he sends that tweet, are the buyers across this world going to come back to American agriculture? Or are they going to be so upset at us over this whole mess that we don't get our customers back?"

Across Utah's state line, in Hotchkiss, Colorado, first-generation fruit farmer Harrison Topp worries the tariffs will force him to compete against much larger northwest orchards to sell his apples.

"We're not a big export region," explains Topp. "But if Mexico puts a 20% tariff on apples, those large-scale growers in the northwest are going to start looking for a new market place. And those markets could be domestic where we sell." With a greater supply of apples in the market, the price farmers get selling them will drop.

Both men (one voted for Trump and one did not) both agree trade policy has been long overdue for fixing. But neither believe high tariffs are part of the solution.

"It feels really reckless right now. Agriculture is being gambled with," said Topp. He wants Congress to pass a comprehensive farm bill to help him and other farmers keep their farms profitable and thriving.

For Gibson, he simply wants the President to give him a place to sell his milk and onions.

"I understand what President Trump is trying to do. We've been taken advantage of by China and by Canada and by some of these other countries," said Gibson. "But we have to have free and fair trade."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 296745

Reported Deaths: 6783
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19731230
Hinds18881393
Harrison16780282
Rankin12787265
Jackson12643229
Lee9703161
Madison9484203
Jones8005147
Forrest7250138
Lauderdale6847227
Lowndes6033140
Lamar590980
Lafayette5747113
Washington5229130
Bolivar4620124
Oktibbeha442194
Panola432396
Pearl River4193132
Warren4138115
Pontotoc410771
Marshall404492
Monroe3993128
Union396474
Neshoba3822170
Lincoln3564104
Hancock350277
Leflore3389119
Sunflower319286
Tate303374
Pike301796
Scott295271
Alcorn292463
Yazoo290865
Itawamba290275
Coahoma282069
Tippah279565
Copiah279259
Simpson276680
Prentiss271158
Wayne254541
Leake253172
Marion252778
Covington249780
Grenada248578
Adams235078
George232445
Newton231252
Winston221979
Jasper213845
Tishomingo212965
Attala206870
Chickasaw201453
Holmes182770
Clay179251
Stone173029
Tallahatchie171439
Clarke169672
Calhoun158528
Smith153033
Yalobusha145536
Greene127933
Walthall124540
Noxubee123131
Montgomery122939
Perry122235
Lawrence120621
Carroll119025
Amite112235
Webster111132
Jefferson Davis102731
Tunica99523
Claiborne99129
Benton93924
Humphreys93027
Kemper90423
Quitman77414
Franklin76219
Choctaw69817
Jefferson62827
Wilkinson62427
Sharkey49117
Issaquena1676
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 498076

Reported Deaths: 10094
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson716711387
Mobile36294737
Madison32616468
Tuscaloosa24340421
Montgomery22739519
Shelby22174218
Baldwin19873289
Lee15039157
Calhoun13832293
Morgan13753254
Etowah13390325
Marshall11448211
Houston10124264
Elmore9483190
Limestone9420138
St. Clair9022227
Cullman8984182
Lauderdale8612214
DeKalb8489175
Talladega7606165
Walker6585259
Jackson6545104
Autauga632492
Blount6236127
Colbert6001121
Coffee5264103
Dale4671107
Russell406933
Franklin399878
Covington3993106
Chilton3898103
Escambia379173
Tallapoosa3622143
Clarke344053
Chambers3431111
Dallas3422142
Pike293373
Marion288695
Lawrence284985
Winston258368
Bibb246160
Geneva240370
Marengo238857
Pickens225457
Barbour213651
Hale212269
Fayette202057
Butler201466
Henry183541
Cherokee178039
Monroe166739
Randolph164840
Washington156836
Macon147745
Crenshaw146255
Clay145954
Cleburne139841
Lamar133733
Lowndes132751
Wilcox122925
Bullock117336
Conecuh107024
Perry106127
Sumter99732
Coosa90224
Greene88532
Choctaw55323
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