Possible steel tariff would be too costly for farmers

There is growing support in some parts of Minnesota for a U.S. tariff on imported steel. The loss of thousands of mining jobs on the Iron Range in recent years has moved state leaders to criticize overproduction and public subsidies of steel in countries such as China, Russia, Brazil and Australia.

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken and Gov. Mark Dayton are all on record in siding with President Donald Trump on such a move.

However, there are always trade offs when considering tariffs. One of those trade offs may come back to haunt southwest Minnesota.

Agriculture will probably take a big hit during a trade war. Such a looming threat is causing some anxiety among agriculture leaders. Perry Aasness, executive director of the Minnesota AgriGrowth Council, warns agriculture and food products are the easiest to place retaliatory tariffs on.

“Ag lives and dies by exports. This is a real concern,” Aasness told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

And it’s just not agriculture that may face repercussions of placing tariffs on steel. Two former Federal Reserve chairs and 15 senior economic advisers to Presidents George Bush and Barack Obama sent Trump a letter. They warn that tariffs will raise costs for manufacturers, reduce employment in manufacturing and increase prices for consumers.

Basically, the tradeoff of starting a trade war may be too costly for the U.S. And way too costly for southwestern Minnesota.