KS congressman: Farmers are ‘such great patriots’ they’ll ride out Trump trade woes

U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall, Republican, represents Kansas’ 1st District.
U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall, Republican, represents Kansas’ 1st District. Submitted photo

Despite the “short-term pain” they’re experiencing because of President Donald Trump’s efforts to renegotiate trade deals and add tariffs to some imports, farmers are still supportive, U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall said Thursday.

Marshall, a Republican representing Kansas’ 1st District, was in Kansas City on Thursday and offered his support to Trump despite concerns that the president’s trade policy has had an adverse effect on farmers. The issue is something Marshall said he hears about constantly when he’s in his district.

“It’s been a long summer, I’ve got to tell you,” Marshall said. “And this has really impacted not just my agriculture producers but a lot of people in manufacturing. It’s impacting every consumer for many reasons.”

Despite that, Marshall said, farmers in his district haven’t abandoned Trump. He said they understand Trump’s perspective when Marshall talks about problems the U.S. has with trading partners’ respect for intellectual property and tariff imbalances.

“So when these farmers hear it — they’re just such great patriots — when they hear the rest of the story, they’re willing to accept this short-term pain in hopes of long-term gain,” Marshall said. “They realize we cannot keep doing what we’ve been doing, so on the one hand, they certainly say, ‘My gosh, please get these agreements done as soon as possible,’ but yet, they support the president.”

This week, Canadian officials are in Washington negotiating on the North American Free Trade Agreement after Trump earlier this week announced the U.S. and Mexico had reached a preliminary agreement without Canada. It’s not clear whether Trump could cut Canada out of the deal unilaterally.

Marshall said he would “much prefer” a trilateral trade deal among the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

“But I’m willing to do a bilateral,” he said.

Any pain the U.S. feels by cutting Canada out of the deal would be felt worse in Canada, he said.

“For Kansas, I still think that most of our stuff goes south,” Marshall said. “Most of our pork and our soybeans, our corn, our cattle go south more than north.”

But, he said, “it would impact us.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Canada is Kansas’ biggest export destination. Last year, Kansas shipped more than $2.5 billion in goods to Canada, compared to $1.9 billion to Mexico.

Marshall predicted cutting Canada out of the deal could cut 20 percent out of Kansas’ exports to the country while farmers are already struggling with low commodity prices. As long as the U.S. and Canada reach a deal soon, Marshall said farmers would pull through, but the state might lose young producers — someone “who’s heavily indebted who doesn’t have any cash in the bank for a bad year.”

“There will be some farmers that won’t have enough money left to plant the crops next year,” Marshall said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report