Montana farmers and ranchers raise some of the best products in the world. Grain, beef, barley, and other crops grown in Lincoln County are in high-demand in dozens of countries in Asia and North America.
Each family farm and ranch operates just like a small business and they need a marketplace, customers, and certainty to succeed.
That is why I am extremely concerned about the retaliatory tariffs targeting Montana producers, which are threatening our bottom lines.
These tariffs are cutting off our access to international markets and this financial blow is coming at a time when commodity prices are low.
The one-two punch of shrinking market access and low commodity prices is devastating to family farmers and ranchers in Lincoln County, but it will also be felt at local stores, restaurants, and businesses in Libby. Building, construction, and lumber costs are through the roof due to the tariffs on steel and aluminum, and it is going to be harder for Montanans to purchase goods from Canada and other countries that we do businesses with.
Tariffs on our agriculture products are putting up a roadblock to customers that local farmers and ranchers have been doing business with for decades.
In fact, Mexico is one of the largest consumers of wheat in the world, and now Mexico is turning to Argentina instead of Montana to buy their grains as a direct result of these tariffs.
The administration needs to identify a solution to this trade war quickly, because when agriculture producers lose access to markets, it can take a generation to get those customers back. And when farmers and ranchers lose market access, the whole community feels the pain.
I have held the Administration accountable for these reckless trade decisions that are hurting Montana families, and I have been sitting down with farmers and ranchers to look them eye-to-eye and hear their concerns.
I will continue to work with Republicans, Independents and Democrats to defend Montana from harmful retaliatory tariffs that undercut our state’s number one industry and force folks to pay more money for everyday goods.
We must be pushing to strengthen our trade agreements and increase access to overseas markets, not shrinking them, because Lincoln County’s agriculture future depends on it.
Sen. Jon Tester is Montana’s senior U.S. Senator.