TariffsEquipment manufacturers, farmers, and small businesses owners sent a clear message at a town hall co-hosted by AEM in Iowa: Tariffs hurt, and they must end now. Over 120 free trade supporters, including thousands more watching online, took part in yesterday’s Tariffs Town Hall at Kinze Manufacturing in Williamsburg, Iowa, which featured U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa).

The conversation focused on the impact of steel and aluminum tariffs on Iowa businesses and the state’s economy, as well as the impact of China’s retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agricultural products. The town hall was the latest in a series of events held by Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, a national free trade coalition of U.S. farmers and hundreds of organizations, including AEM. In conjunction with Wednesday’s town hall, the coalition released new data showing Iowa taxpayers have paid an additional $88 million in taxes since the tariffs went into effect.

Watch the entire event now.

The event began with a roundtable discussion with Iowa equipment manufacturers, farmers, and small business owners discussing the impact of tariffs with Sen. Ernst. This was followed by remarks and a Q&A with the senator. The event wrapped up with a panel discussion moderated by AEM President Dennis Slater, who kicked off the discussion by saying “Let’s be clear, tariffs are taxes. They are hurting the economy, equipment manufacturers, and the American worker.”

Joining Slater for the panel discussion were Richard Dix, senior director supply chain, Kinze Manufacturing, Inc., Barbara Solberg, public policy strategist, Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance, John Heisdorffer, an Iowa farmer and chairman of the American Soybean Association (ASA), Jeff Quint, owner and founder of Cedar Ridge Winery and Distillery, and Pam Johnson, an Iowa farmer and past president of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA).

Here are few highlights of what the panelists said:

  • “While our manufacturers support the Trump administration's efforts to improve our nation’s existing trade policies, what we need are policies that open up foreign markets, not tax Americans.” – Dennis Slater, president, AEM
  • “This has put us in a tough position. We must ask ourselves, do we pass the increased costs on to our consumer, or do we have to make more difficult decisions here? It’s a difficult trade-off that these tariffs are forcing us to make. Money is being siphoned from our company, instead of going to new products, our employees, and new investments. Instead it’s hurt farmers and our consumers…Our biggest fear is that this becomes the new normal.” – Richard Dix, senior director supply chain, Kinze Manufacturing, Inc.
  • “We'll never get 100 percent of our exports back from our number one customer…. I’m putting down my 47th crop this spring. I’ve served the soybean industry for 23 years. My son farms with me. I’m not so concerned about myself, but I’m concerned about my son’s welfare, and the future of young farmers." – John Heisdorffer, Iowa farmer and chairman of the American Soybean Association (ASA)
  • “Bourbon is made from corn. Corn that we grow from our family farm, in our case. We export most of our whiskey outside of Iowa. In early 2018, we embarked on a three-year initiative to export outside of U.S. We chose Europe and China. We got everything started and then the steel and aluminum tariffs kicked in, and then Europe followed up with retaliatory tariffs on American whiskey. So, our buyers in Europe ended up not really wanting our product. It’s a great example of how their tariffs hurt us... We’re treading water.” – Jeff Quint, owner and founder of Cedar Ridge Winery and Distillery
  • “As a sixth-generation farmer, I’ve been farming for a long time. Tariffs are killing us. Trade wars are not easy to win. There’s so much uncertainty in the countryside. I look up and down main street and they’re hurting, and now the farmers are really hurting. Some aren’t even farming any more. It’s really changing the fabric of Iowa.” – Pam Johnson, Iowa farmer and past president of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA)
  • “The number one thing we hear with this issue is certainty. Businesses, including farmers, want certainty, and that’s not what’s happening right now... Where I’m from in Cedar Rapids, we’re seeing real angst among manufacturers. Businesses are putting expansions on hold, and this is really stifling our economy. We’re urging Congress to approve the USMCA trade agreement and end the tariffs.” – Barbara Solberg, public policy strategist, Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance

The event was widely covered by the media, including reporting by The Gazette, Quad-City Times, KCRG ABC9,KGAN CBS2 / KXFA Fox 28,  Progressive Farmer, and Brownfield Ag News. The Iowa City Press-Citizen also published a guest opinion by AEM president Dennis Slater earlier in the day.

This tariffs town hall was the second AEM has co-hosted with Tariffs Hurt the Heartland. AEM member company Husco previously hosted a tariffs town hall at its facility in Waukesha, Wisconsin

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