Bennet Hears from Colorado Farmers and Ranchers About Effects of Trade War

Producers from across the state express concerns over long-term uncertainty

Washington, D.C. – Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today convened a group of farmers and ranchers at Sakata Farms in Brighton, Colorado, to discuss the effects of President Trump’s escalating trade war on agriculture across the state.

“It’s clear President Trump’s policies have severe opportunity costs in overseas markets for American farmers and ranchers," said Bennet. "Instead of escalating a self-inflicted trade war, the President needs to develop a real strategy to address unfair trading practices and create opportunities in the global economy.”

At the roundtable, Bennet heard the following concerns:

“We’ve seen a 20 percent plunge in commodities since early June in corn in particular,” said Don Brown, Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture. “Wheat has struggled. Soybeans have really struggled. We’re below break-even.” 

 “We support fair trade, we support amending trade agreements, but the biggest challenge to the future of our business is the ability to grow international markets,” said Terry Fankhauser, Executive Vice President of Colorado Cattlemen’s Association. “If you want agriculture to survive, you need to let us produce and let us trade those goods wherever there’s a buyer for them.”  

“Potatoes are the poster child for unfair trade,” said Jim Ehrlich, Executive Director of the Colorado Potato Administrative Committee. “We need fair trade deals, but the way we’re going about it, we need to be a little more thoughtful.” 

“We are grain farmers, and that’s all we produce: milo, sunflowers, wheat, corn,” said Christi Stulp of J & C Farms, former Relationship Manager with the National Sorghum Producers. “Trade really affects our profitability. We are considered young farmers…and it is a struggle.” 

During a Senate Finance Committee hearing on April 12, Bennet pressed U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer about the damage of a trade war on Colorado’s farmers and ranchers and the need for the administration to act responsibly. In a separate hearing on June 20, Bennet challenged Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for imposing steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada, Mexico, and the European Union, subjecting Colorado producers to additional retaliation. The following day, Bennet introduced legislation to reverse these tariffs.