Leadership

Soybean Association Puts a Face On Tariffs’ Impact

By / Jul 5, 2018 Iowa soybean farmer Bill Shipley, one of the "faces of tariffs" being shared on social media this week. (Iowa Soybean Association/Twitter)

As tariffs set by the Trump administration take effect, the American Soybean Association is hoping to highlight the impact of the decision on farmers with a new social media campaign.

The Trump administration’s aggressive approach to tariffs, particularly in China, has proven controversial among many sectors with deeply varied focuses, from automobiles to electronics.

The agriculture industry has also taken issue with tariffs, which are to take effect on Friday. And one group that anticipates direct impact from the change in trade regulations is turning to social media to make its case.

This week, the American Soybean Association (ASA) launched the #FacesofTariffs campaign to draw attention to the 25 percent duties that will be placed on soybeans exported to China—a move that was part of $34 billion in retaliatory tariffs that China placed on the U.S. in response to the tariffs placed on China by the U.S. The competing tariffs set up a major trade war between the world’s two largest economies.

The posts on social media focus on the human element of the tariffs, to highlight the potential damage they could do to an economic success story that particularly affects family farmers. A few examples below, shared by national and state soybean associations, as well as some of the affected farmers themselves:

In comments on the campaign, ASA President John Heisdorffer, an Iowa soybean producer himself, argued that the administration’s high-profile attempt to force action on global trade would endanger a number of workers within the industry, China takes in nearly a third of the U.S. soybean crop—an amount that represented $14 billion in sales last year alone.

“It is imperative that we maintain the robust market we have worked so hard for decades to establish with China,” Heisdorffer said in a news release.

Heisdorffer added that soy particularly sees heavy use in China as animal feed.

“They have a sizeable feed industry that’s dependent on soybeans, the largest swine herd in the world, the largest global aquaculture industry, and are rapidly modernizing their poultry, egg, dairy, and beef industries,” he added. “They are a vital trading partner, and we need to continue to do business with China without the sting of these tariffs.”

This week, ASA was cited as an example by The New York Times of an association that was generally on board with Trump’s pro-business policies but has found the president’s aggressive approach to trade, particularly to China and Mexico, troubling.

“I would like to tell the president, ‘Man, you are messing up our market,’” ASA Secretary Kevin Scott told the Times this week.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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