Last Saturday night, while Washington was debating whether Michelle Wolf’s White House Correspondents Dinner jokes were funny or offensive (or both), President Donald Trump was telling supporters in Michigan about $50 billion in proposed tariffs on Chinese imports.
“Short term, you may have to take some problems,” Trump said. “Long term, you’re going to be so happy.”
Kansas agriculture workers can’t get past the short term to look too far ahead.
A study for the Consumer Technology Association and National Retail Federation projects Kansas losing 2,755 jobs — or 0.14 percent of its ag workforce — because of the retaliatory tariffs likely to placed on U.S. agriculture by China.
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Other states will lose more jobs, the study found, but none will lose a higher percentage than Kansas. Kansas is the nation’s largest producer of wheat and sorghum.
“Agricultural jobs are going to get the hardest among all the sectors we look at,” Trade Partnership Worldwide president Laura Baughman said.
Kansas’ senators, Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran, were quick in their concern for the effect China tariffs would have on agriculture.
Moran last month noted that it’s hard to tell with Trump “what’s negotiating tactics and what’s not.” Farmers, part of a majority that gave Trump a comfortable Kansas win in the 2016 election, are hesitantly watching trade talks that begin this week in China with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.
Already stymied by drought and falling prices, Kansas farmers don’t need another blow to the bottom line.