At Senate Roundtable, McCaskill Hears from Missouri Businesses, Agriculture Leaders About Harmful Impacts of Tariffs

ST. LOUIS – U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, today held a roundtable in St. Louis to hear from Missouri businesses and agriculture leaders about the economic impact of the Administration’s tariffs and trade policies on Missouri’s economy. At the roundtable, entitled “Examining the Effects of Tariffs and Trade Policy on Missouri Manufacturing and Agriculture,” McCaskill heard from representatives of businesses in manufacturing and agriculture with operations in Missouri.

“The most important industry to Missouri is agriculture—so listening to the farmers that were here today and listening to the companies that are part of the agricultural economy that were here today—it’s a grave concern for our state,” McCaskill said. “We’re looking at billions of dollars of loss in Missouri because of this trade war. So we’ve got to get this fixed because the markets that are going away are not going to come back right away—and of course the biggest market this group was focused on was China. One in three rows of beans in Missouri goes to China—it’s a huge export location for Missouri agriculture, so that obviously is not resolved, and it doesn’t appear it’s going to get solved anytime soon.”

Click HERE for video from the roundtable.

Ken McInnis, Director of Americas Supply Chain & Global Purchasing at the manufacturer RotoMetrics, said of the tariff exclusion process, “It’s a farce—I’ve got 70 plus applications in, they sit there for weeks or months and then they reject them for some minor issue. And then you resubmit them, and then you wait and then they go through a comment period, and it’s just this endless series of red tape. … It hurts American manufacturers like us because we’re paying a premium and it gives an advantage to all our global competitors.”

Matt McCrate, Past President and Board Member of the Missouri Soybean Association, said of the impacts the trade war is having on Missouri agriculture, “Now we’re looking at a $2 drop and it’s continuing to go down, so you’re talking $212 million in lost earnings for workers and businesses already. You’re talking 3,000 jobs that will probably have to go elsewhere because of a lack of business because Missouri soybeans are the number one export to China as he mentioned earlier—one in three rows for everything raised. And although we’re getting offered a band aid package for one year, we would much prefer free trade.”

A full transcript of the roundtable is available HERE.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, where McCaskill serves as the top Democrat, has conducted ongoing oversight of the Administration’s trade policies. In May, McCaskill joined Republican Chairman Ron Johnson of Wisconsin to demand details from the Department of Commerce on why it decided to impose tariffs on aluminum and steel imports that could harm Missouri businesses. In June, the two Senators also sent a bipartisan letter to the White House Council of Economic Advisers asking for details on its economic analysis that the Administration’s tariffs could be detrimental to economic growth. McCaskill’s roundtable in St. Louis follows a roundtable on tariff impacts that Johnson held last month in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

McCaskill has been a strong advocate on behalf of Missouri businesses and workers—and in June toured Mid Continent Nail Corporation, the largest U.S. producer of steel nails, which was forced to reduce its workforce by more than 30 percent because of soaring costs and canceled sales resulting from tariffs that the Administration placed on the wire that the company uses to produce nails. Following China’s implementation of retaliatory tariffs that harm Missouri agriculture exports, including soybeans and pork, McCaskill called on the Administration to end the trade war that “shuts our farmers and ranchers out of critical markets.”

As product-based exemptions from steel and aluminum tariffs are stuck in a backlog and country-based exemptions from the largest suppliers of steel and aluminum imports received only temporary extensions, McCaskill advocated on behalf of Missouri small businesses facing large financial burdens from the tariffs by calling on Secretary Ross and the Administration to help small businesses navigate the tariff exemption process to give them much-needed certainty and transparency.