The impact of tariffs on Hoosiers


South Bend Tribune

It’s only a matter of time before Hoosier farmers and other industries start feeling the impact of tariffs.

China has imposed a 25 percent tariff on U.S. soybeans, among other American products such as pork, in response to the Trump administration placing $34 billion worth of new taxation on imports from China.

Soybeans are the No. 1 agricultural export in the country, with sales of $27 billion last year. With Indiana producing about 5 percent of the nation’s soybeans, the 25 percent tariff on that commodity alone could end up costing Hoosier farmers about $150 million.

According to a Purdue University study, it’s projected that China’s soybean imports from the U.S. would fall by about 65 percent and total U.S. soy exports would drop by about 37 percent.

A USA Today story that named 15 counties most exposed to China’s tariffs listed Carroll County in Indiana as one of the most affected.

According to a Brookings Institution analysis, 1,835 jobs in that county’s animal processing industry could be influenced by tariffs. That represents more than a 35 percent share of local employment.

But agriculture isn’t the only Indiana industry that will be hit. The steel and aluminum industry could feel a significant jolt, too.

The RV industry in Elkhart County, which Brookings rates as one of the top five counties in the country when it comes to exports as a percentage of GDP, is vulnerable to retaliatory tariffs that will raise prices and cost jobs.

Industry officials are worried about the possibility of a trade war. U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, who has voiced concern about the tariffs and the hit Hoosier jobs could take, recently arranged a meeting so that business representatives could express their concerns to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

One former Republican official put it best in Brian Howey’s July 8 column in The Tribune: “The consequences of this will be paid for by the American workers, the soybean farmers, because when those markets go, they’re gone.”

There are thousands of Hoosier workers who could feel the shock of these tariffs. Our local congressional representatives owe it to them to do all they can to make sure the tariffs don’t do irreparable harm to Indiana’s economy.

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