At a town hall in Lafayette on Thursday, former Congressman Charles Boustany outlined just how much the tariffs put in place by the Trump administration are costing Louisiana.
Boustany is a spokesperson for Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, a nationwide, nonpartisan campaign. According to data the group released from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Census Bureau:
- Businesses in Louisiana paid out $19 million in product tariffs in October 2018.
- Louisiana manufacturers and farmers paid $17 million in tariffs in October and more than $39 million since the beginning of the trade war.
- In total, Louisiana businesses have paid $85 million in extra costs since the tariffs were imposed.
One of the groups hardest hit by the trade war has been Louisiana farmers. China is not buying U.S. soybeans due to tariffs. Many U.S. soybean crops from the Midwest were harvested and shipped to Louisiana’s ports, and are now sitting in storage, reducing the amount of storage available for the state’s own farmers and crops. As a result, many Louisiana farmers are letting their crops rot in the fields rather than harvesting them.
This has an added negative effect. In the original farm bill, aid provided to farmers to help mitigate the costs of the newly imposed tariffs made only harvested crops eligible for relief. Because much of Louisiana’s crop hasn’t been harvested, it is ineligible for the $1.65-per-bushel relief (part of an overall $12 billion rescue package).
Congressman Ralph Abraham has filed a bill intended to help with that part, at least. On Monday, Abraham introduced a bill to change the language to allow payments based on planted acres – helping to take the burden off farmers who were unable to harvest and store their soybeans.
At the Lafayette town hall, several Acadiana business owners stood up to speak, sharing their own stories about the increased costs they’re facing as a result of the Trump administration’s trade war with China. “It is time for meaningful negotiations to take place,” Boustany said. “We urge the administration to pursue negotiations with our trading partners that will de-escalate the trade war.”
Jenn Bentley is a writer and editor originally from Cadiz, Kentucky. Her writing has been featured in publications such as The Examiner, The High Tech Society, FansShare, Yahoo News, and others. When she’s not writing or editing, Jenn spends her time raising money for Extra Life and advocating for autism awareness.