trade

If you're caught in a trade war, it's good to be a farmer.

Lots of American companies have lost sales since the Trump administration and China embarked on the current cycle of tariff-raising and retaliation. Few, if any, have been compensated as handsomely as farmers.

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.


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.

Sydney Boles

A large whiteboard in an Ashland, Kentucky, unemployment office is covered with a list of companies that are currently hiring. Senior career counselor Melissa Sloas said that just a few years ago, that board was a lot emptier.

This corner of eastern Kentucky has long struggled to make up for losses in mining and manufacturing. Unemployment in the Ashland area is still around 6.3 percent, well above the state average. Career center employees said workers are anxious about the closure of longtime employer AK Steel, which announced in January it would close its Ashland plant this year.


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.


Liam Niemeyer

Mick Henderson runs the Commonwealth Agri-Energy ethanol plant in western Kentucky. He said the past year for U.S. ethanol producers, including in the Ohio Valley, has been rough.

“We’ve just passed our 15th anniversary just now, and this is going to be one of our weakest years,” Henderson said.

Ethanol prices have been down the past year because supply of the grain-based fuel is at a record high. Retaliatory tariffs on corn from countries like China have also hurt prices because corn and grain targeted by tariffs are used by ethanol plants.


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.


White House video

As President Donald Trump addressed farmers at a national conference Monday Ohio Valley agriculture leaders said they are standing by his effort to renegotiate trade deals. But some leaders cautioned that costly tariffs on farm products need to end soon.

President Trump doubled down on his fight for better trade deals during his speech to American Farm Bureau Federation members at their convention in New Orleans.


Kevin Willis

Kentucky’s signature spirit has never been more popular here in the U.S., or overseas.

But bourbon is facing the realities of an ongoing trade war between the Trump Administration, China, the European Union, Canada, and others.

As 2019 nears, Kentucky’s whiskey producers are bracing for the impact tariffs could have on their international sales.


Becca Schimmel

The United States and Mexico have reached a preliminary deal to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. The emerging agreement has big implications for agriculture and automakers in the Ohio Valley.  

President Trump has played up his tentative agreement with Mexico’s president, but NAFTA partner Canada has only recently been included in the weeks of negotiations. At an automotive conference in Lexington, Kentucky earlier this month Auto industry representatives stressed the importance of trade with Canada and Mexico.


Pages