New York Farm Bureau, along with the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner, Richard Ball, and Farmers for Free Trade, highlighted today the importance of open markets for the state’s farmers and encouraged a quick end to the trade war that is creating economic hardship on family farms across New York.
The farmers gathered at the Great New York State Fair, an important celebration of New York agriculture, to discuss their concerns. A number of New York commodities, including dairy, soybeans, wine, maple and apples face retaliatory tariffs in several countries including China, Canada, Mexico and in the European Union. In turn, commodity prices have fallen on agricultural products. Equipment prices are rising due to the steel and aluminum tariffs, and farmers are concerned about losing long established markets as countries turn to other, cheaper sources for their food. These losses, in turn, will impact rural communities that depend on agriculture to support their local economies.
While U.S. agriculture has had a trade surplus, the farm economy has not been a bright spot for this country. Net farm income was already down by 50% before the trade wars began. When times are tough, this is when this country needs to be looking for new opportunities to expand markets to sell the quality products produced on our farms. The principle agreement announced this week with Mexico is a positive step in the right direction, but ultimately, we will need Canada to complete an effective NAFTA deal. Farmers also encouraged a resolution to disputes elsewhere, including China.
“We understand that trade agreements may need to be updated, but we have to be careful not to damage the relationships that we already have and depend on,” said New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher. “We are encouraging our leaders in Washington, to move quickly at getting the parties back to the negotiating table, much like we have seen this week with Mexico, and to move forward on improving trade relations with our partners.”
“The tariffs being imposed on our agricultural commodities are compounding an already difficult marketplace and putting New York’s farmers in a precarious situation. Once these markets are lost, we could find it extremely difficult to regain that footing. We have an opportunity here to collaborate with our partners and to call for new free trade agreements and thoughtful, long-term solutions,” said State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball.
“Our farmers are reliable, they are resilient, and they are responsible. They are ingenuitive and they are innovative in producing an excellent product for consumers both stateside and abroad amid a myriad of unpredictable challenges including the weather and ever-changing consumer demand. As steadfast patriots, we look to our government to recognize that our growers already operate in an environment of uncertainty and hope that this administration will facilitate opening the doorway to global opportunities in a way that is good for our country and its farmers,” said Colleen Klein, New York Corn and Soybean Growers Association’s Executive Director.
“New York maple producers are concerned about trade from two fronts. The tariffs in both Asia and Canada mean a potential loss of markets for American made maple syrup as cheaper Canadian maple syrup moves in to fill the void. In addition, the steel and aluminum tariffs have resulted in price hikes for equipment we need to produce maple syrup. My company alone was forced to increase prices 10%, prices that eventually will be passed down to consumers. We need a fix now before there are long lasting repercussions on New York’s maple industry,” said Dwayne Hill, Shaver-Hill Maple Farm.