Wheat

President Donald Trump’s latest tariff threat against Mexico has U.S. wheat growers concerned.

National wheat organizations say they are “shocked and dismayed” by President Donald Trump’s plan to impose a 5% tariff on all Mexican goods imported by the U.S.

Trump’s tariff would go into effect June 10. It would gradually increase — up to 25% — “until the illegal immigration problem is remedied,” Trump said in a Twitter post.

“We respectfully ask the administration not to implement these new tariffs,” Chris Kolstad, chairman of U.S. Wheat Associates and a wheat farmer near Ledger, Mont., said in a press release. “The potential fallout for farmers would be like struggling to survive a flood then getting hit by a tornado.”

U.S. Wheat Associates and the National Association of Wheat Growers also said the action threatens to undermine approval of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement and puts crucial wheat demand in Mexico at great risk.

Darren Padget, a Grass Valley, Ore., farmer and U.S. Wheat secretary-treasurer, said he would be in Mexico June 2-4 as part of a U.S. Wheat conference for customers.

The conference is partly to remind Mexican customers how important they are to the U.S. wheat industry. It is funded by the Agricultural Trade Promotion program because U.S. wheat farmers proved they were being hurt by other retaliatory tariffs, according to U.S. Wheat.

Padget expected Trump’s comments to come up in discussions.

“Those in production and the end-user always tend to get along pretty well,” Padget said. “Our governments are the ones who’ve got the disagreement. The end-user and the farmer don’t have any major problems that I’m aware of.”

According to the wheat organizations, bad feelings abounded in Mexico after Trump threatened to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement and imposed tariffs.

After that, Mexico’s industries, including flour millers, set out to broaden their supplies. In 2018, Mexico increased its total wheat imports significantly, but U.S.-sourced wheat imports declined.

“With progress on the USMCA — most recently cancellation of the steel and aluminum tariffs — our customers in Mexico have been importing more U.S. wheat,” Kolstad stated.

“We call on the president to rescind this threat immediately,” stated Ben Scholz, president of NAWG and a wheat farmer from Lavon, Texas. “We’ve been hit by low prices; we’ve been hit by rain and flooding that is hurting what was an excellent wheat crop; and now we’ve been hit again by the actions of our own government. We need to end indiscriminate use of tariffs now, one way or another.”

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