Donnelly Questions Fed Chair Powell on Economic Impact of Tariffs on Farmers and Rural Communities

Senator’s questions at Banking Hearing continue to highlight his concerns about the Administration’s uncertain trade policies

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly, today at a Banking Committee hearing, questioned the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Jay Powell about the economic impact of tariffs and the uncertainty caused by the Administration’s trade policy on farmers and rural communities. In recent weeks, Donnelly has spoken out after hearing consistently from farmers and agriculture groups about uncertainty in export markets and falling commodity prices. Donnelly relayed those concerns to President Trump at the White House in late June and has highlighted the importance of creating a level playing field for manufacturers, steel producers, and farmers to continue selling quality products all over the world.

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To see Donnelly’s questions to Chairman Powell, click the image above or click here.

Donnelly said, “Mr. Powell, I am worried about farmers in my state…In the last couple of weeks I’ve visited with Hoosier farmers and groups like the Indiana Corn and Soybean Alliance and the Indiana Farm Bureau to hear their growing concerns with falling commodity prices and uncertain trade policies, which are already harming Hoosier farmers and rural communities…I’ve also heard from local businesses dealing with cancelled orders because of the tariffs. The price of soybeans, as I mentioned, is at a 10-year low due largely to Chinese tariffs on U.S. exports. This current policy, what I worry about is that it’s already damaged foreign export markets that took decades and decades to build. What would be the long-term impact of falling commodity prices and reduced agriculture exports on rural communities which are struggling in so many ways already?”

Powell said, “Well I think we know it would be very bad. And we’ve seen periods in American history where that has happened and it can be extremely tough on farmers and rural communities.

Donnelly said, “As Fed Chairman, what would you say to all those farmers who are really nervous, really concerned about what their future will be… is there anything you can say about this trade war…?”

Powell said, “…If the current process of negotiation results in lower tariffs that would be a good thing for the economy. If it results in higher tariffs, then, I hardly need to tell you what higher tariffs would do for agricultural producers. Agriculture is an area where we lead the world in productivity and we’re great exporters and you’d be very hard hit by these tariffs.”

Donnelly said, “If this goes on for a couple more years, what would be the impact on our rural communities?”

Powell said, “I think certainly it would be very tough on the rural communities and I think we’d feel that at the national level too.”

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