Tester: Farmers and Ranchers Are Being Used as Pawns in Trade War

Senator Demands Action from Washington, Defends Montana Producers

(U.S. Senate)-As agriculture commodity prices continue to fall, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today took to the Senate floor to demand action from his colleagues to reverse the financial damage caused by tariffs imposed against Montana farmers and ranchers.

Tester relentlessly defended Montana’s number one industry and called for the Trump Administration to restore certainty to the over 27,000 family farms and ranches across Montana.

“Farmers and ranchers are being used as pawns in a trade war they certainly didn’t ask for,” Tester said. “This trade war is eliminating access to international markets, driving down commodity prices, and putting a financial pinch on agriculture families that hasn’t been felt since the 1980’s. The retaliatory tariffs against farmers and ranchers is harming my state’s top industry.”

Over the past 30 days as tariffs have gone into effect, the price of Dark Northern Spring Wheat in Billings has fallen nearly 10 percent-a trend seen by agriculture commodity prices across Montana.

Tester warned that if Congress does not act, the tariffs imposed against American agriculture products will force farmers and ranchers out of business.

“My wife and I saw hard times of our own while operating the farm during the 1980’s, when policies in Washington and market conditions across the globe drove folks off their farms and ranches and forever changed the landscape of rural America,” Tester added. “Today, we are heading down that same difficult path. We can’t afford another punch to the gut in rural America.”

A recent study published last month reports that the retaliatory tariffs against the U.S. could cost the country to lose over 400,000 jobs.

Tester recently held an in-person listening session with Montana farmers, ranchers, and small business owners on tariffs and trade. The panelists told Tester that the tariffs are threatening to eliminate their access to international markets and driving down the price of agriculture commodities, while increasing the cost of building materials.

Tester last week pushed to hold the administration accountable to Montana farmers and ranchers by helping to pass legislation to give Congress a role in imposing tariffs.

Tester helped pass a Farm Bill through the Senate last month that protects crop insurance and the other safety nets that farmers and ranchers can utilize during times of low commodity prices.