tariffs

Becca Schimmel | Ohio Valley ReSource

A Western Kentucky University economist said global trade issues increasingly have an impact on farmers and business in places like southern Kentucky.

Brian Strow, a professor of Economics and the BB&T Professor for the Study of Capitalism at Western Kentucky University, said farmers are especially reliant on a healthy global economy, and have been closely following news concerning U.S. trade policy with China and the European Union.


Liam Niemeyer

Tom Folz drives around on a sunny, August afternoon and surveys the thousands of acres of dark green, leafy soybean plants and tall stalks of corn he grows on his sprawling farm in Christian County, Kentucky.

At 54, Folz has wispy, white hair matching his white mustache. It’s taken him several long work weeks to get his crop to where it is today.

“You got to be a little bit ‘off’ to be a farmer,” Folz said. ”You don’t get to enjoy anything during harvest and planting season because we’re working.”


Updated at 6:56 p.m. ET

Stocks plunged Wednesday on deepening worries over a slowdown in the global economy.

The Dow closed down 800 points, or about 3%. Investors have been whipsawed in recent days by mixed signals emerging from the Trump administration about tariffs and the escalating trade war with China.

The jitters were exacerbated amid worrisome economic data from two big countries. Germany posted negative growth in the latest quarter, and China's growth in industrial output fell to a 17-year low.

Liam Niemeyer

The U. S. Department of Agriculture announced Thursday details of a second round of aid totaling $16 billion for farmers affected by the trade war with China. But some Ohio Valley farmers worry about the ongoing consequences of these payments and tariffs.

As with the first round of tariff relief offered last year, farmers will again be paid extra for the soybeans, pork and dairy they produce. But instead of paying farmers a flat rate, USDA officials said these payments will depend on the assessed “trade damage” and the commodity production of each county.


American Distillers Welcome End of Tariffs in Canada, Mexico

May 20, 2019
Kevin Willis

American whiskey producers feeling the pain from the Trump administration's trade disputes have gotten a shot of relief with an agreement that will end retaliatory tariffs that Canada and Mexico slapped on whiskey and other U.S. products.

The whiskey industry hailed the arrangement to ease trade tensions among the North American allies and said it hopes it's the first of several rounds of good news on the trade front. Distillers have suffered shrinking exports since the last half of 2018 due to tariffs in some key markets.

Becca Schimmel | Ohio Valley ReSource

With more than 20 years of experience trading with China, a Barren County businessman is voicing his support for increased import tariffs on China.

The Trump administration recently increased import tariffs on Chinese goods by 15 percent. China then responded with new tariffs on $60 billion worth of American imports.

Bud Layne is the CEO of Spantech in Glasgow, Kentucky, which builds custom conveyor belts for the food and packaging industry. He said he supports the Trump administration’s methods.

Flickr/Creative Commons

The Ohio Valley auto industry is still awaiting a decision on whether or not they’ll face tariffs. The Trump administration was scheduled to make a decision this month, but punted for another six months.

Executive Director of the Kentucky Automotive Industry Association Dave Tatman said this adds to the uncertainty his industry faces.

“But we have three huge destabilizers for the economy in which we work. The tariff trade war going on with China, the whole potential of national security threat and however that plays itself out and there’s some new information on that, and then the USMCA agreement,” he said.

Nicole Erwin I Ohio Valley ReSource

Ohio Valley farmers say the latest tariff escalation between the Trump administration and China could continue to hurt their businesses, with many farmers already facing financial struggles.  

As Chinese officials visit Washington, D.C., for more trade talks, the Trump administration announced this week increased tariffs, planned to go into effect Friday, on $200 billion dollars worth of Chinese goods, accusing the country of reneging on trade promises.


Braidy Industries

Russian aluminum company Rusal announced Monday it plans to invest in a new Kentucky aluminum mill to be built near Ashland in eastern Kentucky. The $200 million investment in Braidy Industries is Rusal’s first U.S. project since the Trump administration lifted U.S. sanctions placed against the company.

Rusal had been sanctioned by the U.S. government because its major controller, Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who has close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, faces accusations of “a range of malign activity around the globe” by Russia, according to the U.S. Treasury Department. Those actions include interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and meddling in neighboring Ukraine.


Export Slump Deepens for American Whiskey Producers

Mar 21, 2019
Kevin Willis

For American whiskey producers, their tariff-induced hangover became more painful in late 2018 when a downturn in exports accelerated, especially in the European Union — the industry's biggest overseas market, an industry trade group said Thursday.

Overall exports of bourbon, Tennessee whiskey and rye whiskey fell 11 percent during the second half of 2018 compared to the prior-year six-month period as the impact of tariffs started to be felt, the Distilled Spirits Council said in a new report.

Last month, the council released an annual report that showed American whiskey exports had declined by 8.2 percent between July and November of 2018 compared to the prior-year period. But the report did not include December export figures.

Becca Schimmel

Uncertainty over the future of trade is causing some Kentucky auto manufacturers to hold back on investment. The United States Mexico Canada Agreement, which would replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, still hasn’t been finalized.

Dave Tatman is the Executive Director of the Kentucky Automotive Industry Association. He said exports from Kentucky were down five percent in 2018 from the year before. Tatman disputes claims made by the Trump administration about U.S. auto manufacturers moving production to Mexico because of low labor costs.  

Liam Niemeyer

Western Kentucky Farmer Barry Alexander doesn’t have an answer on when the Trump administration will reach a trade deal with China, now a year into tariffs that have hamstrung some Ohio Valley industries.

Alexander is optimistic these continued negotiations will be worth it, but his plan in the meantime lies in massive, silver storage bins on Cundiff Farms, the 13,000-acre operation he manages.

He pulls a lever, and out tumbles a downpour of pale yellow soybeans.


Tariffs Take Toll on U.S. Whiskey Exports in Last Half of 2018

Feb 12, 2019
Abbey Oldham

Retaliatory tariffs caused a sharp downturn in American whiskey exports in the last half of 2018 as distillers started feeling the pain from global trade disputes, an industry trade group said Tuesday.

Exports to some key overseas markets gyrated wildly last year for producers of bourbon, Tennessee whiskey and rye whiskey. Overall, U.S. spirits exports in 2018 stayed on another record-setting trajectory, due in part to surging whiskey sales in the months leading up to the tariffs as larger distillers stockpiled supplies, the Distilled Spirits Council said. Other categories including vodka, brandy and rum also had strong overseas sales.

When U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer was growing up in Ashtabula, Ohio, in the 1950s, it was a thriving factory town with a busy port where freighters brought iron ore to be used in the steel mills of Pennsylvania.

Today, many of the biggest factories have long since left the region for low-wage places — taking a lot of jobs with them — and the port ships a fraction of the freight it once did.

Glynis Board

Cyndi Kirkhart has some 26,000 square feet of warehouse space at the Facing Hunger Food Bank in Huntington, West Virginia, where she is executive director. That sounds like a lot of space. But very little of it is cooler space.

“This is the only cooler we have,” Kirkhart said, stepping into a walk-in cooler the size of a large closet filled with half-gallon containers of milk. “This is Kentucky milk, and this is West Virginia.”

She said her operation has been receiving about 8,000 of these containers, about a truck load, every couple of weeks since November. She expects to continue receiving the products from the federal government through March.


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