Donnelly Questions USDA Officials on Harmful Impacts of Tariffs on Farmers and Rural Communities

Senator’s questions at Agriculture Committee Hearing continue his concerns about how the Administration’s trade policies are creating difficulties for Hoosier farmers

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly, yesterday at a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing, questioned Under Secretary of Agriculture for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney about the continued harm that farmers and rural communities are facing due to tariffs and the uncertainty caused by the Administration’s trade policies.

Over the past several months, Donnelly has spoken out after hearing consistently from farmers and agriculture groups about uncertainty in export markets and falling commodity prices. In July, Donnelly questioned the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Jay Powell at a Senate Banking Hearing about the impacts of tariffs. Donnelly relayed those concerns to President Trump at the White House in late June and has highlighted the need for 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 Under Secretary McKinney,  click the image above or click here.

Donnelly: “These are the lives and the farms of my fellow Hoosiers who are at stake. I was with a group again this weekend we have friends who are going to lose their farms because of what is going on right now… they are going to lose the dreams of their life because of what we are dealing with, and Secretary McKinney as you well know these are very very very hard times for Indiana farmers…”

McKinney: “Thank you senator. Good to see you again. Um – yeah you’re point is very valid. I think what we are facing here is we have been four or five years with very depressed farm prices and that is for a number of factors, and I would characterize a lot of them to unfair track practices. When I was in front of you at the con...”

Donnelly:We were at about $10.70 before this price war started. That was the cash price for beans at that time.”

McKinney: “Right thank…no that’s all right. Thank you. Yes we are taking some short term pain with the hopes of long term gain.”

Donnelly: “How do you explain that to the farmer who is going to lose everything?

McKinney: “Well that is very difficult and there will be some losses but when we talk to the majority of the farmers….”

Donnelly: “What if you are that person? You said you know we will take some losses. What if it’s the folks I were  - I was with recently in Kokomo, who took me aside and said down the road there is a fella who is going to lose everything. What do you tell his kids, Mr. McKinney?”

McKinney: “It is very difficult. The answer I would give is: we are trying to make some corrections that will fix many of the trade issues that we have been suffering from a long time…”

Donnelly: “…farmers keep coming in and asking and it is about as valid a question as you’d ever get: When does this end?”

McKinney: “Well my hope is that the work going on by our friends with the USTR on things like NAFTA  and then Japan and then all the other bilaterals will bring this back. That is my intent and that is what we are doing to support this.”

Donnelly: “…it seems like the light at the end of the tunnel is a train coming at my farmers and they are our farmers because we both know them, care about them, love them. They are our friends. They need to know that there is an off ramp or an end to this because what young man or woman graduating from Purdue right now is going to go into farming when they look and see that this is the situation?”

McKinney: “It is tough and I have talked to several and all I can say is we are right sizing things that should have been right sized over the many years passed… And there are some regrets. It’s like the 1980’s and I went through those just as you  were. I hope we found that we right sized things and made it better for farmers.”

Donnelly: “Mr. Secretary, with all due respect, those are not regrets. Those are neighbors and those are neighbors who are losing their farms, who are losing their life’s dream, whose kids are wondering why dad can’t do this anymore or mom can’t do this anymore... And this is completely self-inflicted.”

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