The brewing trade war between China and the U.S. is making Montana farmers and ranchers nervous.
Former Montana Senator and U.S. Ambassador to China Max Baucus tells MTPR that even prior to any new tariffs taking effect, uncertainty about them has a real cost to the ag industry.
"A lot of Montana farmers and ranchers are going to wonder, gee, are these tariffs going to go into effect or not? How’s that going to affect my planting decisions; what crops, when? Should I buy that equipment, that tractor now, or no? Better not, because I don’t know what’s going to happen," Baucus says.
The trade dispute comes at a particularly inopportune time for Montana ranchers seeking to close a multi-year deal to export up to $200 million worth of beef through Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com. Miles City rancher and Montana Stockgrowers Association Vice President Fred Wacker said today a contract needs to be finalized by the end of June to have cattle ready for delivery in 2018.
He says final negotiations with JD.com are just getting started and hopes the trade dispute doesn't upend a deal.
Chinese regulators yesterday included beef among U.S. products targeted for a potential 25 percent increase in import duty. The move came hours after the Trump administration unveiled plans to impose tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese imports.