/Trump’s tariffs could ‘devastate’ them, but farmers and contractors still back Hyde-Smith

Trump’s tariffs could ‘devastate’ them, but farmers and contractors still back Hyde-Smith

Their applause was genuine when she finished her speech, which she had delivered on September 7. As she moved around the room, Hyde Smith was met with familiar smiles and hugs. This group of Delta farmers is the most likely crowd to open up to Hyde-Smith’s former state agriculture commissioner. As the senator left, many acknowledged that Hyde-Smith’s strong support for the president’s foreign policy could cause financial ruin. The Chinese government imposed tariffs of $34 billion on American products in July as a response to the Trump Administration’s tariffs. This included row crops, which form the backbone for Delta agriculture. China is one the biggest trading partners for many of these goods so the clock is ticking as to how long crops can be stored before they become ruined. Chris Killebrew is a Greenwood soybean farmer who estimates that if there’s no trade agreement by February, he will lose $40 per acre. His losses could reach $100,000 if he had 2,500 acres. Killebrew stated, “It’s an extremely significant issue.” “Very significant.” Mississippi farmers prepare for tariffs’ impact. A similar scene was seen in Ridgeland, a Jackson suburb. Half a dozen of her supporters quizzed Hyde-Smith on tariffs, less than 15 minutes after Hyde Smith publicly accepted the endorsement of National Association of Home Builders. The problem in this case was the Canadian softwood lumber tariff of 20 percent. This is part of a continuing trade dispute between the countries. The lumber cost, which was used to build new homes for people, increased by between $8,000 to $10,000, but did not increase the home’s worth. According to Billy Ray, owner of National Concrete Products, the additional $10,000 was derived from builders products. Ray stated, “That’s real money. Real money.” Dale Nelson, a contractor agreed. “We don’t have the money to spend on any extras in these houses. The problem is that (the cost of) these houses goes up faster than they can be built. It is a risk. Nelson stated that we cannot afford to build if there isn’t relief. However, Hyde-Smith said that this concern about personal finances has not led to concern for her candidacy or President Trump’s policies. Phil Bryant elected her to the Senate in March. Instead of shying away from the tariff controversy and avoiding responsibility, Hyde Smith has presented the controversial tariffs to President Trump as a key spoke in his trade wheel — and herself, as one its most consistent supporters. She hopes this strategy will help her win in November against Trump acolyte state Senator Chris McDaniel (R-Ellisville), former Democratic Congressman Mike Espy, and Gautier Democrat Tobey Barrtee. Hyde-Smith informed home builders that she was recently invited to the White House by a seven-member advisory group on trade. She stated that she has full faith in the president and that the president will listen to her. She stated that the trade war was a lengthy game, but would eventually lead to a better deal for American businesses. Hyde-Smith stated, “The president said to me, ‘Cindy’, that we’re in for some turbulence. “But when you get to the other end of this, people will make a living from a level playing ground.” Hyde Smith’s strategy of accepting not only the president, but also his policies seems to have worked well for her. Mississippi Today was contacted by more than a dozen farmers and builders to discuss this story. Each of them stated that they expected the tariffs would hurt their finances. Each one supported Hyde Smith’s candidacy. Jeff Salmons, of Houseworks LLC said that “I don’t doubt it because I believe there’s a lot more involved than what we may realize.” “And we might have to ride, just as Cindy Hyde stated. We are going to ride this little storm for the betterment and for the final result. These are real problems for home builders. On average, spec builders made 5.9 percent profit from new homes in 2016. A builder could expect to earn around $15,000. If a house is sold for $250,000, that’s a profit of 5.9 percent. This is a significant cut of $8,000 Salmon stated, “It’s devastating to us.” It’s a gamble. Farmers are the same. In the new year, there will be loan payments and interest payments. There will also be a new crop to prepare and new crops to plant. In the hope of a trade settlement, most farmers will store their grain from this fall. It’s important to weigh the costs of extra storage and the possibility of losing the grain altogether. Michael Aguzzi, a Cleveland farmer, said that it is a delicate balance. It’s forcing us make decisions about bean storage and whether we’re going on this roller coaster ride out. So is support for Hyde Smith and President Trump. It’s a balance act between the concrete and real issues. Many mentioned their support for the president’s economic policies such as tax cuts and his hardline on immigration. All of these are supported by Hyde-Smith. Wade Quinn stated that she is a Trump supporter and that Phil Bryant likes her. Farmers who worked alongside her as Agriculture Commissioner pointed out her strong pro-agriculture background and influence on federal policies such as the Farm Bill. Mike Wagner, a rice farmer, said that she is “pretty hard headed”. “She’ll get what she wants.” Killebrew, a Greenwood farmer, agreed with Wagner, but with less confidence. Killebrew stated, “I think that the best I can tell you is that I hope.” “I fully support them, until they can’t sustain anymore,” Killebrew said. Killebrew believes that this won’t be an issue until January at the latest, but it’s more likely to be February, three months after midterm elections. Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story, as well as several others on our website, incorrectly identified Tobey Bartee, U.S. Senate candidate for Gautier. According to his campaign website he was most recently an Intelligence Analyst for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Every story where Bartee was misidentified has been rectified. We are sorry for the mistakes.