Tariff war hurting Utah farmers & ranchers

Jun 27, 2018, 7:12 PM | Updated: 9:50 pm

SYRACUSE, Utah – China’s move to strike back in a trade war with President Donald Trump has already taken a toll on prices for agricultural products in Utah, even though the tariffs don’t take effect until July.

Neal Briggs adjusts an irrigation system at an alfalfa hay field in Syracuse.

Neal Briggs said just weeks ago, wheat prices were looking strong, but after China announced tariffs on agricultural products, that all changed.

“We’ve watched the grain markets plummet since all of this happened,” Briggs said. “We were already set to become a major exporter, because other countries have suffered with their grain yields, and then this happens. It always puts negative pressure on the market.”

Briggs, a lifelong farmer who currently serves as the Davis County President for the Utah Farm Bureau, primarily produces alfalfa hay, but also produces a large wheat crop.

“We’ve always been able to raise more in this country than we use,” Briggs said. “We rely on the exports heavily, and when tariffs come into play, all of a sudden it puts our export market at risk.”

Officials with the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food said they expect China’s tariffs to impact four of the state’s top agricultural exports, affecting tens of millions of dollars in sales.

A wheat field, grown and maintained by Briggs’ family, in Syracuse.

Briggs said he just wants to be able to continue his family tradition of farming.

“This is what I love,” Briggs said, tearing up. “I love being able to raise food for people.”

Where many farmers often find themselves hoping for a change in the weather, Briggs hoped for a change of heart between the U.S. and China.

“I just hope we can do like Brigham Young did when he came to the valley,” Briggs explained. “He said, ‘Be friends with the Indians. It’s better to feed them than to fight them,’ and that’s what I think we ought to do today.”

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Tariff war hurting Utah farmers & ranchers