Illinois farmer calls on Washington to end trade war while farming group announces anti-tariff coalition

A longtime northwest Illinois farmer called upon Washington today to end the Trump administration's trade war with much of the rest of the First World as a farming coalition announced the launch of a campaign to call attention to the pain that war is causing.

"Our leaders in Washington need to find an end to these trade wars," Megan Dwyer, a fourth-generation farmer who lives in Coal Valley, Illinois, said during a Illinois Business Daily email interview. "We produce a premium product, whether it's soybeans, pork, beef or corn, and the list goes on. American farmers are proud of these products and we rely on export markets to stay in business. Time and money need to be spent on failing infrastructure and strengthening trade relationships, not making hardworking family farmers the pawns of a political game."

Dwyer is a mother of three who along with her husband Todd operates family farms in northwest Illinois, specializing in corn, soybeans, Alfalfa, cows and calves. She said that whoever might win the political game, farmers are definitely losing. 

"These tariffs are personally impacting my farm in two ways," she said. "All of our soybeans are sold at a river terminal, into an export market. Our purchaser sends two-thirds of the soybeans they purchase to China. Losing a huge buyer drastically reduces demand and local competitiveness for my product. Likewise, my husband and I sell after-market farm equipment updates and add-ons. An increase in steel price, drives up equipment cost, this combined with reduced income at the farm level means farmers have less money to invest in updates and new technology. We have tried to diversify and spread our risks and are now being hit from both ends."  

President Donald Trump  

Stories like that of the Dwyer family is what prompted Farmers for Free Trade, a bipartisan coalition against tariffs, to announce earlier today the launch of "Tariffs Hurt the Heartland," a multi-million dollar campaign to highlight the widespread economic pain the trade war is causing middle America, particularly farmers, manufacturers, workers and consumers. 

"As fourth-generation corn and soybean farmers, our family understands what's needed for American agriculture to continue to flourish—and it's not bailouts," said Scott Henry, a partner in LongView Farms in Des Moines, Iowa, who is active in the "Tariffs Hurt the Heartland" campaign.

"We thought it was necessary to start a campaign like Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, because it didn’t feel like the president could hear us. Clear, consistent policy that respects exports and international trade is the best thing for our work."

Henry's family has been in the business long enough for him to know what he's talking about. 

"I'm a fourth-generation farmer at LongView Farms, and as our name implies, we take the ‘long view’ when it comes to the business of agriculture," he said.

"Policy interference and restricted market access are two surefire ways to hamper innovation and long-term growth. I've joined the Tariffs Hurt the Heartland campaign, because we clearly need a new way to get through to the president, so he hears our message loud and clear: tariffs hurt us. Clear the path for trade of homegrown agricultural products, and we'll succeed."

Of all the groups feeling the pain of the trade war, farmers especially need to join together to be heard, Dwyer said. 

"I think when you have less than 2 percent of a population making up an industry, it's especially important to be able to organize and share a collective message," she said.

"Farmers are busy doing what they do best, growing safe and affordable food, so having an organization like Farmers for Free Trade helping to tell our stories is important. I hope it sheds light on what these trade wars really mean and get more people to put pressure on their representatives to end things quickly. We need fair and competitive trade but we need it today, not tomorrow."

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