|Robert Klemm next to corn, on a farm in Waynesville, Illinois begun by his great-grandfather in 1905.|
Robert E. Klemm is a farmer, just like his father before him. And his father’s father before that. And his father’s father’s father before that.
“I grew up right here,” said Klemm, standing beside a field of corn in Waynesville, Illinois, about 150 miles southwest of Chicago, on a farm his great-grandfather worked in 1905. Now he farms 1,100 acres of corn and soybeans, plus raises a smattering of cattle.
Like most American farmers, he does not mince words about recent shifts in U.S. trade policy.
“I don’t like the tariffs, as any agricultural producer wouldn’t,” he said. “It’s been very difficult on our economics. And I’m just hoping the president continues the negotiations. I understand the need of it. But it’s hit our pocketbooks really hard … I’m gravely concerned. It’s not going to hurt us. It is hurting us. It has and will.”
President Donald Trump was elected, in part, by promising to revive domestic American industries such as steel, aluminum and coal. Over the past few months, he has imposed tariffs on imported steel, aluminum and other products from the European Union, Canada, Mexico and particularly China — earlier this month he levied tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese products.
When a country is hit by tariffs, however, it invariably hits back, and retaliatory tariffs slammed a wide swath of American industries, from motorcycles to beer. Harley Davidson announced it is expanding European operations; Budweiser is raising prices to reflect higher cost of cans.
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