Ag groups fear proposed tariffs could hurt Iowa jobs, wallets

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DES MOINES, Iowa (KCCI) -- All six of Iowa's Congressional leaders have sent a letter to President Donald Trump, urging him not to impose tariffs on foreign-made steel and aluminum.

Agriculture groups told KCCI on Wednesday that unrest in Washington, D.C., could have a ripple effect in Iowa.

“We don't know where we stand right now,” said Pork Ron Birkenholz, with the Iowa Pork Producers Association. “Pork producers are nervous about what's going to happen."

Mark Steenhoek, with the Soy Transportation Alliance, said a trade war would be a “big concern” for Iowa.

"That will spread to a host of industries across this state,” he said.

Birkenholz said hits to Iowa’s agriculture would also affect industries statewide, including manufacturing giant John Deere, possibly resulting in lost jobs and higher costs for consumers.

“That could significantly change prices for consumers at the supermarket,” Birkenholz said.

Steenhoek said Iowa is a reliable source for soybeans internationally and that the state sends soybeans to 20 different countries.

"You know the thing about good reputations is they take years to accumulate but moments to evaporate,” Steenhoek said.

Steenhoek said that if trust corrodes in Iowa, the state’s long-term partners will search for other options.

"Those countries can simply elect to purchase their soybeans somewhere else, more notably, Brazil and Argentina,” Steenhoek said.

When it comes to taking economic risks, Gov. Kim Reynolds said she supports modernizing the North American Fair Trade Agreement but does not want to withdraw from the deal.

"The impact that would have on our state and states across the country -- but I'm focused on Iowa -- would be devastating,” Reynolds said.

Birkenholz and Steenhoek said they had not heard the term “trade war” used in the last few presidential administrations.

The stock market struggled to a mixed finish Wednesday as investors fear escalating trade tensions.

The Dow fell 82 points, ending under 25,000.

View the orginal story on KCCI's website.