IFB active on tariffs, other issues

Reaction will be based on whether trading partners retaliate, Guebert says.

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From left, Illinois Farm Bureau Executive Director of Governmental Affairs and Commodities Mark Gebhards, President Richard Guebert Jr. and RFD Radio’s DeLoss Jahnke discuss trade at the Governmental Affairs Leadership Conference on Wednesday in Springfield. (Photo by Chris Magnuson)

By DeLoss Jahnke

Illinois Farm Bureau members have plenty of state-specific legislative issues to discuss this week at the Governmental Affairs Leadership Conference in Springfield.

But the recently announced plans to impose federal tariffs on steel and aluminum have captured many members’ attention and led to questions about what actions state leaders are taking.

“I think it’s really important that the membership knows that we’ve been fully engaged in this issue,” said Mark Gebhards, IFB executive director of governmental affairs and commodities. “We have a lot of concern about what’s going to potentially be retaliated against. We’ve made sure our Illinois congressional delegation understands that.”

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Canada and Mexico have been allowed an exemption, which could have an impact on the ongoing renegotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

IFB President Richard Guebert Jr. said Farm Bureau will be watching whether other nations retaliate in the coming weeks.

And leaders of the American Farm Bureau Federation met last week to discuss trade scenarios, Guebert added.

“Our trade advisory committee is engaged,” he told the RFD Radio Network®. “We’re working with the other commodity groups on messaging to the president and his staff. It would really have dire consequences on agriculture and the farm economy if there are some retaliatory challenges out there.”

Gebhards said 71 percent of Illinois ag exports go to countries impacted by the tariffs. China, which buys 31 percent of the soybeans grown across the United States, is one of them.

“I can’t help but believe it will have an impact on Illinois agriculture,” added Guebert.

Content for this story was FarmWeekNow.com.

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