Billings, Mont. - R-CALF USA announced today that the Trump Administration's lifting of its temporary exemptions of Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs for the European Union, Canada, and Mexico is the first step in revitalizing the nation's ailing farm and ranch sectors, which are comprised primarily of family-scale operations.
"For nearly half a lifetime the United States refused to protect domestic industries critical to America's economic and national security out of fear that doing so would elicit cries of protectionism and isolationism," said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard adding, "This was the strategy designed by the entrenched lobbyists of transnational corporations to persuade past presidents and past Congresses to take no action to protect America's self-interests, even in the face of harmful, mercantilist trade practices by foreign countries.
"Those mercantilist trade practices allowed foreign governments to "weaponize" their industrial trade policies to bring U.S. manufacturers to their knees, eliminate good-paying U.S. jobs, gut America's middle class, and render America's family farmers and ranchers unprofitable."
Bullard said this is why America's conventional agricultural trade organizations remained silent while unrestrained imports destroyed America's commercial sheep industry, displacing America's domestic sheep production with a staggering 314 percent increase in imported lamb and mutton from 1994 through 2007. He said more than 3.7 million domestic sheep and more than 15,000 sheep producers were eliminated during that period. According to Bullard, today's beleaguered sheep industry produces less than half the lamb and mutton that Americans consume each year.
"The sheep industry is the American family farmer and ranchers' canary in the coal mine. America's largest segment of Agriculture, the U.S. cattle industry, is only a few years behind the sheep industry if we don't make radical changes to our nation's failed trade policies," Bullard asserted.
"America has lost nearly 47,000 family farms and ranches with annual revenues over $10,000 just since NAFTA was implemented, and those farms exited the industry while America's population increased by an astounding 63.2 million people. This data shows that America's family farmers and ranchers have been subjected to trade policies that are undercutting their self-interests.
"The President's tariffs on steel and aluminum stops the economy-destroying train that has long since left the station. Now is the time for America's family farmers and ranchers to stand up and support the Administration's efforts to turn that train around by ending the mercantilist practices of foreign countries so we can rebuild America's dwindling middle class. Food purchases by America's middle class, after all, holds our best promise to restore farm prices that will reverse the decline of America's family farmers and ranchers," Bullard concluded.
R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America) is the largest producer-only cattle trade association in the United States. It is a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle and sheep industries.