Calhoun County farmers optimistic higher tariffs will yield fair trade

Local News

ALEXANDRIA, Ala. (WIAT) — The United States and China continue to go back and forth in what economists are calling a trade war, and the short-term effects are being felt widespread — especially by farmers. 

Doug Trantham is the co-owner of Trantham Farms in Alexandria which tends to about 1,500 acres worth of crops in Calhoun County.

For Trantham, farming is a family tradition.

“My mother and daddy came here and bought this farm in 1951,” explained Trantham. “And we’ve been here ever since. I was born here on this farm and I’ve been here all my life.”

But things aren’t easy on the family farm right now, as Washington and Beijing continue to go back and forth.

President Trump announced last Friday that tariffs on $200 billion worth of goods imported from China will be raised from 10% to 25%. The move was made by the President in an effort to combat “unfair” trade relations between the two countries. 

Monday, Beijing countered by slapping tariffs onto $60 billion worth of U.S. goods. 

As economic punches continue to be thrown, farmers like Trantham tell CBS 42 that they are bearing much of the burden. 

“Since this last round of tariffs announced last week we’ve seen a dip in commodity prices,” said Trantham, estimating that soybean, corn, cotton, and wheat prices have dropped roughly 15% across the board for him.  

Although farmers like Trantham are experiencing the proverbial “short-term pain” from the tariffs, President Trump is not backing down. 

“I think it’s going to turn out extremely well, we’re in a strong position,” said President Trump to members of the media earlier this week. “We are the piggy bank that everyone likes to take advantage of.”

The President also took to Twitter and expressed confidence in his tough stance on trade. 

President Trump has affirmed consistently that the end-goal is to create an environment of fair trade — which Trantham firmly agrees with. 

“You’ve got to have fair trade, it’s all got to be brought to an even playing field,” said Trantham. 

Trantham tells CBS 42 that for years his livelihood has been hindered by cheap, foreign crops flooding the market. Even though Trantham Farms is one of the largest farming operations in Calhoun County, they consistently find themselves facing foreign competition. 

“Brazil and South America, they can grow grain and they don’t have the rules that we have,” explained Trantham. “We have the EPA. [Other countries] just do whatever they want to, use whatever they want to. They don’t have any regulation but we’re heavily regulated. So, you have to bring everything to a level playing field to be fair.”

Trantham is listed as the president of the Calhoun County Farmers Federation President and claims that most farmers in the county share his sentiments. While things are difficult now, he’s hopeful that the “long-term gains” will make it all worthwhile. 

“It hurts in the short-term but I think if [President Trump] sticks with [the tough stance on trade] and finishes it and brings [trade] up to a level playing field, we’ll all be better off for it,” said Trantham. 

October is when Trantham takes the majority of his crops to market, and he’s hopeful that prices will have fully rebounded by that time. 

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