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Illinois Farm Bureau President: Farmers can “only last so long” in tariff fight

SPRINGFIELD, Illinois (Illinois News Network) — Another round of tariffs has two major Illinois industries for exports jittery.

In an effort to get better trade deals, the Trump administration issued another round of tariffs this week on various goods. Powerhouse trading partner China responded with tariffs on U.S. manufacturing and agricultural products.

Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert called these “tit-for-tat tariffs” and said farmers, like himself, can only last so long in this fight.

He didn’t want to put a general timeline on when deals should be made, but he said it’s urgent deals get made with Canada, Mexico and Japan for agricultural projects.

Illinois Manufacturers’ Association Vice President Mark Denzler said something has to give.

“There’s certainly concerns among the manufacturing sector and the agricultural sector about what the impact would be on sales or prices to consumers or in some cases jobs,” Denzler said.

But he said it is important to address abusive trade practices like China’s theft of intellectual property or high tariffs in place already on U.S. made products.

“So we certainly need free and fair trade and this is one tool that the president has looked at,” Denzler said.

He said a trade war doesn’t benefit anyone. He wants agreements made.

“That would really help farmers back home to get some certainty there to at least have that kind of risk portfolio to lean on,” Guebert said.

The federal farm bill that benefits farmers is in a congressional conference committee, but opponents to work requirements for the bill’s food assistance provisions is where the most push back is coming from, Guebert said