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Sen Tester, Grain Growers Criticize Trump Trade Policies

Wheat field.
Wheat field.

Sen. Jon Tester and the president of the Montana Grain Growers Association both spoke in Congress Wednesday about negative effects they say President Trump’s trade policies are having on Montana farmers.

"Our farmers and our ranchers are being used as a pawn in a trade war that I can guarantee you not one of them asked for."

Tester cited specifically the effects of Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum, and retaliatory tariffs on U.S. products instituted by China, the European Union, Canada and Mexico, among others.

The Montana Department of Agriculture reports that there are more than 27,000 farms and ranches across Montana.

In a House Ways and Means Subcommittee, cattle rancher and President of the Montana Grain Growers Association Michelle Erickson-Jones also testified, claiming, "There are very few issues in my career as a farmer that have caused me to lose sleep. But these tariffs are one of them."

Tester said the effects of the tariffs will be felt beyond Montana’s agricultural community. In Missoula, for example, construction costs for the city’s new library are going up because the cost of material like rebar has skyrocketed.

"Library officials have told me that as a direct result of these tariffs they are preparing with the need to go out and raise another $500,000 to finish this project."

The Republican members of Montana’s congressional delegation have also raised concerns about the impact of the Trump administration’s trade policies on Montana, and the state’s agriculture industry specifically.

Eric Whitney is NPR's Mountain West/Great Plains Bureau Chief, and was the former news director for Montana Public Radio.
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