Iowa Ag Secretary voices concerns about tariffs at 2018 Ag Summit

DONAHUE, Iowa -

On a day when President Trump introduced new tariffs against China, Iowa's new Secretary of Agriculture warns that tariffs will hurt the farm economy.

Iowa Ag Secretary Mike Naig calls for markets to grow, not shrink.  It's a message getting a stronger voice at the 2018 Ag Summit at Cinnamon Ridge Farms.

"When you look at the ag economy and what's happening with prices, we know that we not only need to protect our markets but expand our markets," he said, on Thursday, March 22.

Along with low crop prices and high production costs, there are new worries that steel and aluminum tariffs will spark retaliation against Iowa soybeans and other exports.

"South America is already a huge competitor in the soybean market," said Jason Pruett, Farm Credit Services.  "They could certainly start selling to Mexico."

Summit host John Maxwell agrees and warns of a ripple effect across the state.

"How goes the ag economy, so goes Iowa," he said.

Maxwell wants to remind federal decision-makers that exports are huge for Iowa.

"We're all in it together," he continued.  "We all need to join together and work it out."

Whether from crops, combines or construction, tariffs take a toll on farmers.

"When they're talking about steel and everything like that, any time we build anything on the farms, that could definitely increase the prices on that as well," Pruett said.

At this summit, thinking globally is a way of life in rural Iowa.

"We produce way more than we can consume here," Sec. Naig concluded.  "That just means we have to move these products around the world."