Joni Ernst said Donald Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum will hurt Iowa farmers

March 8, 2018 GMT

Republican Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa said Thursday that President Trump’s pending tariffs on steel and aluminum will blow back against U.S. farmers, with foreign retaliation against agricultural products.

“I am very, very concerned about the tariff policy that we see coming out right now, because we do export so much of our commodities, our soy beans, our corn, beef, pork,” Ms. Ernst told radio host Hugh Hewitt. “So much of that does go overseas. And the tariffs will have an impact, because we’ll see retaliation coming our way.”

She said hasn’t been able to speak with the president to express her concern about the retaliatory impact on farmers.

“I have not been able to speak directly to the president,” she said. “I have been placing calls over to the White House. I think there’s a lot of calls going to him right now from a number of congressmen, senators, that are displeased about the policy.”


She said she did meet with aides to Vice President Mike Pence Wednesday night, ahead of Mr. Trump’s expected move on Thursday afternoon to set tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum imports.

“This needs to be well thought through, and I think it just came out of the blue,” Ms. Ernst said. “I think retaliation, especially against states like Iowa, is going to be very, very heavy. It’ll be heavy-handed.

She agreed with Mr. Hewitt’s characterization that White House economic adviser Peter Navarro, an influential advocate of the tariffs in the West Wing, “is not a trade expert.”

“We need somebody out there that understands that we operate in a global economy,” she said. “Just because you’re slapping tariffs on steel doesn’t mean that there aren’t going to be repercussions in other areas. We export a lot of our soy beans to China, and we know that China is a bad actor. But there is a delicate balance out there, and we need to have thorough negotiations. We haven’t gone through that process.”