Ag on alert as tariff implementation nears

U.S. duties on imported aluminum and steel scheduled to take effect this week, and farmers could be among the first to notice retaliation.

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Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert Jr. appeared on the RFD Radio Network on Wednesday, one of several interviews he’s conducted to talk about the importance of trade recently. (Photo by Jeff Brown)

By Jeff Brown

Just hours away from U.S. tariffs on imported steel and aluminum being implemented, the president of the state’s largest farm organization is concerned that farmers may be the first to feel the retaliatory effects of such actions.

Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert Jr. said the organization continues to be engaged on the issue and work with the state’s congressional leadership to prevent the duties from taking effect.

But if they do, Guebert said they’re sure to impact Illinois agriculture.

“Sad to say, usually agriculture bears the first brunt of these tariffs,” he told the RFD Radio Network® on Wednesday. “What we’ve seen in past tariff wars or trade wars is it’s never been really good for American agriculture, particularly Illinois agriculture.”

Guebert, who sits on the American Farm Bureau Federation board, said AFBF President Zippy Duvall plans to remain involved in the conversation at the national level. Closer to home, Guebert has conveyed the potential impact retaliation could have on Illinois agriculture during several media interviews over the past two weeks.

Guebert also noted that IFB has discussed with members of Illinois’ congressional delegation the challenges these tariffs could present. And he said farmers have an advocate with Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue pushing the same message inside the Trump administration.

“I’m very impressed with how our membership is engaged; they’re concerned about what is going to happen,” Guebert said. “We really need to continue to get our message out on how important trade is to our economy.”

The planned tariffs include a 25 percent duty on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum. Both are scheduled to take effect Friday.

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