Some Utah farmers and ranchers may not survive the trade war

Local News

OGDEN, Utah (News4Utah) – Utah Farm Bureau President Ron Gibson said tariffs are costing some local farmers and ranchers tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands per month. While some relief could be on the way, there is worry some farms won’t survive.

Because the retaliatory tariffs are lowering supply overseas, it’s now flooding domestic markets with more products. With many commodities being set nationwide the price for all farmers and ranchers have gone down.

“Our markets have been built by agricultural producers for decades, and now they’re being ruined by governments,” said Gibson.

Even products that don’t have tariffs could still be in trouble. Soy beans have some of the biggest tariffs at this point, so some farmers might switch some fields to corn or wheat. That will then put more on the market for those products and drive down the price.

Gibson is a sixth generation dairyman and food farmer. For the 165 dairies in the state, the price of milk has dropped $2 per 100 gallons. He worries it could be too much.

“There’s an extreme possibility, and reality is we’ll be lucky to have 100 [dairy farms] by the end of the year,” said Gibson.

Gibson also notes that the industry has been facing issues long before the trade war got underway.

Farmers have struggled for years because a strong dollar has made it tougher for goods to be sold overseas. Certain goods still faced tariffs even with countries which had free trade agreements with the United States. It’s why Gibson said some are torn on President Trump’s actions.

“I’m very grateful and thankful and I think our producers across the country are grateful that we have a president that does care about agriculture,” said Gibson. “I don’t agree with the way he’s doing it right now.”

In Utah, farmers have also had to deal with another drought. Gibson said smaller operations will likely be hurt the worst by the price drop.

“Now the little crop that they have if they lose the price on that, it’s extremely detrimental to agriculture,” Gibson said.

The Trump administration has announced plans for a $12 billion aid package to help farmers and ranchers. It could be out by early September, but Gibson and others have few details on how it could get to small family farms.

Gibson said farmers and ranchers would prefer not needing any aid at all. While they don’t like accepting the help he said many will have to take it to survive.

There’s a belief that tariffs from other countries are hitting agriculture products because they impact many areas which supported President Trump. Agriculture products are one of the few things the U.S. has a trade surplus in.

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Glen Mills

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 Glen is honored to be delivering the news of the day every weeknight at 5, 6, and 10 in his home state. He is an award-winning veteran journalist, who joined the ABC4 News team as a weekend anchor in June 2013. Over the years, he held various positions at the station as he worked his way up to the main anchor chair. He also serves as our Senior Political Correspondent and hosts Inside Utah Politics, which airs every Sunday. The Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has recognized Glen as the best government and military television reporter in the state. Before returning home to Utah, he spent 11 1/2 years developing his journalism skills in other states. He held various on-air and management positions at KPVI in Pocatello, Idaho, WGBA in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and KKCO in Grand Junction, Colorado during that time. Read More...