For the last few weeks, I’ve been holding listening sessions across western and central Wisconsin to hear your concerns and questions. While our conversations were different from Alma to Platteville, one topic came up at every listening session: How are we going to protect our farmers and our local economies from the impact of retaliation and tariffs?
The president’s new trade negotiating tactics are putting our farmers in the middle of a trade war. While the extent of the impacts are still unknown, we do know that our local soybean growers, pork producers, dairy farmers and cranberry growers will be affected by these new policies. Our farmers are already working hard just to stay afloat and can’t afford the uncertainty of shifting markets that are a consequence of unilateral trade policies. Wisconsin’s $22.3 billion in exports support good paying jobs across the state and deserve better than to be treated as pawns.
We know that everyone loses in a trade war. Wisconsin’s agriculture industry contributes $88.3 billion to our local and state economies annually and provides jobs to over 11 percent of the state’s workforce. Our trade policies must focus on doing no harm to Wisconsin’s agriculture sector so our rural and small communities across Wisconsin can grow and thrive. With low commodity prices, this is perhaps the worst possible time to undertake this reckless policy. If we truly want to be a check on China, we must work with our trading partners to set high standards in the Asia Pacific region, not go at it alone.
As Congress reconvenes this week, I plan to continue to work hard on behalf of our communities across western and central Wisconsin. We must come together to act before the farmers and families in rural communities become the casualties of a trade war.
Democrat Ron Kinds, La Crosse, represents Wisconsin’s 3rd Congressional District.