Local trade experts discuss tariff impacts on northern Illinois economy

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For some, talks of international trade and tariffs don’t have much meaning. But for local manufacturers and farmers, it can make a big impact on their bottom lines.

From Brexit, to U.S.-China and Korea-Japan trade disputes –all are taking a toll on the northern Illinois economy.

“Nobody wins in a tariff war,” said Winnebago-Boone Farm Bureau President Richard Beuth. “We should be selling lots of pork right now to Japan and especially China. Almost a third of their hogs have died from African Swine Fever and yet they’re not buying our hogs because we got a 62% tariff.”

Beuth farms corn and soybeans in Seward. He says after China leveled tariffs last year, the value of his soybean bushels dropped $2.

“Almost 40% of what farmers raise is exported,” said Beuth. “Trade is a big part of our income.”

Former Congressman Don Manzullo (R-16th District) was the moderator at Tuesday’s trade impact talk at the Nordloff Center, he says shoppers will soon be left picking up the tab.

“When a 10% tariff is placed on Chinese goods, it’s not the Chinese manufacturers that pays for it, it’s the American consumer,” said Manzullo.

Rockford University’s Associate Professor of Economics Dr. Roxana Idu spoke on the trade disputes impact on Rockford manufacturing. She says the industry relies heavily on an international supply chain and that could soon take a hit.

“Often businesses go out to China and other places to buy these because they’re cheaper so they can save,” said Idu. “By saving, on some of these inputs, they can then expand their production, hire more workers, that creates jobs.”

Stateline farmers say they hope to see completed trade agreements soon, in place of the tariffs.

“If farmers aren’t making any money, you know, there’s going to be some farmers go broke on this.” said Beuth. “They’ll be some farm sales this winter if we don’t get these agreements.”

According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, bankruptcy filings among farmers nationwide have gone up 13% in the last year.

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