Farm Bureau official hopes Farmers for Free Trade campaign will sway policy

Farmers for Free Trade launched the new campaign, titled "Tariffs Hurt the Heartland."   File photo

The Georgia Farm Bureau hopes Farmers for Free Trade's new campaign will be successful in its attempt to give farmers a voice.

Georgia Farm Bureau Director of Public Relations Andy Lucas said Georgia's farmers benefit greatly from trade.

"Our nation enjoys a positive agricultural trade balance," Lucas said in an interview with Georgia Business Daily. "Last year, we exported around $140 billion in farm products. Our farmers need international trade because it helps contribute as a major driver of our Georgia’s economy."

Lucas said the Georgia Farm Bureau has been and continues to be a leader advocating on behalf of Georgia’s agriculture at both the state and federal level.

Andy Lucas is the director of public relations for the Georgia Farm Bureau.   Contributed photo

"Trade with other nations is very important to stabilizing farm communities as net farm income was already down 50 percent before the tariffs," Lucas said. "The $12 billion package of agricultural assistance announced by the administration will provide some temporary relief to farmers who are experiencing the financial impacts of the trade war."

Lucas said the farm bureau believes a long-term solution on trade should be the focus.

"To address the question about the campaign, if it helps restore free trade, better position and outcome for Georgia’s farmers by being a voice then we hope it will be a success, Lucas said.

Farmers for Free Trade launched the new campaign, titled "Tariffs Hurt the Heartland," in July in an attempt to explain why tariffs are harming farmers, factory workers and the consumers who are paying their true cost. The campaign's advertisements highlight a real-life story of the cost of tariffs. The campaign will also organize town hall meetings and push to end what it calls the "job-killing trade war."

The first 30-second advertisement is called "Rounding Error" and is running on several national cable networks. "Rounding Error" says that farmers, factory workers and rural communities are harmed by the trade war.

The ad states that America's farmers and factory workers are not a "rounding error," as National Trade Council Director Peter Navarro was quoted as saying. The ad asks President Donald Trump to stop the trade war because it is harming rural communities and putting jobs at risk.

Farmers for Free Trade Executive Director Brian Kuehl said the campaign will tell real-life stories of farmers, factory workers and families who are affected by the tariffs.

"Washington lawmakers are advancing tariffs that cause pain to the very people who drive our economy," Kuehl said in a news release. "That pain will get worse as these policies continue to spur retaliation from other countries. To push back against this advancing trade war, we are going to tell the stories of the jobs, businesses and consumers who are too often being ignored by the people who make our nation’s policies but fail to consider the real-life cost."

Scott Henry, of LongView Farms in central Iowa, said as a fourth-generation corn and soybean farmer his family understands what is needed for America's agriculture system to flourish, and it's not bailouts.

"We thought it was necessary to start a campaign like 'Tariffs Hurt the Heartland' because it didn’t feel like the president could hear us," Henry said. "Clear, consistent policy that respects exports and international trade is the best thing for our work."

Henry said as his farm's name implies, they take a "long view" when it comes to agriculture.

"Policy interference and restricted market access are two surefire ways to hamper innovation and long-term growth," Henry said. "I’ve joined the 'Tariffs Hurt the Heartland' campaign, because we clearly need a new way to get through to the president, so he hears our message loud and clear: tariffs hurt us. Clear the path for trade of homegrown agricultural products, and we’ll succeed."

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