Farmers reported to Sen. Joni Ernst that due to tariffs imposed by the Trump Administration, they now face commodity prices that don’t cover the cost of production.
The comments were made during a Tuesday town hall in Centerville where Sen. Joni Ernst heard from constituents, after receiving a standing ovation from most in attendance upon being introduced.
“Every day that you wait to approve deals, we’re falling further behind our global competitors,” Mark McGill, president of Appanoose County Farm Bureau, said. “We need to level the playing field. ... As far as China, we’ve been working on that for some time, but every time we place a larger tariff the cost of soybeans and corn is now ... at below production cost.”
Ernst said that one trade deal, the USMCA, is already approved by Mexico and is currently working through the Canadian parliament.
Yet, she said, the rest for the hold up in the United States on approving the trade deal with countries in North America was Democratic leadership in the U.S. House.
She said the bill since it’s revenue-generating, it must begin in the House.
“If [Speaker Nancy Pelosi] brought it up on the floor of the house today, it would pass overwhelmingly," Ernst said. "Once it comes to the Senate there's no issue. There will be people that don’t support it in the Senate, but we got the votes to pass it in the Senate.”
“Politics play into this. And heaven forbid if we would give this President a win on a really exceptional piece of legislation that benefits everyone,” she added. “We need the House to move.”
As far as China, Ernst called that situation a “sticky wicket.”
Ernst said she wants the trade deal “done right” but she’s worried about losing markets to other countries, like Argentina and Australia, that are filling in the gaps on commodities not being purchased by China from the United States.
“The President and I go back and forth on tariffs,” Ernst said. “The conversations always start like this: ‘Joni, I know you don’t like tariffs but I’m a tariff guy.’”
Other topics brought up included whether or not gun control is needed, the need for improvement of mental health services, health care and some Democrats' proposal for Medicare-for-All, and local issues in the Veteran’s Affairs system.
The town hall was held at Simon Estes Auditorium in Centerville, as part of Ernst’s 99-county tour.
Kyle Ocker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the newsroom at 641-856-6336. Follow him on Twitter @Kyle_Ocker.