Michigan feels brunt of tariffs


(As seen on WZZM TV 13) Michigan taxpayers are feeling the impact of tariffs.

According to Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, a bipartisan campaign group against tariffs, Michigan taxpayers have paid $1.6 billion so far in additional tariffs that were placed on imported products such as soybeans, dairy, wheat and pork between May 2018 and August 2019, which includes $122 million in August alone. The group compiled the data using information from the United States Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Agriculture.


Michigan businesses, farmers and manufacturers have faced $589 million in new retaliatory tariffs, including $28 million in August. As a result, Michigan exports are subject to a 7% drop this year. The group said tariffs on China’s “List 3” goods have accounted for $607 million of the new taxes paid so far.

“Michigan imported $1.7 billion of ‘List 4’ products in 2018, of which $1.2 billion worth of those items started facing additional tariffs of 15% on Sept. 1,” the campaign stated. “The rest of the products will face additional 15% tariffs starting on Dec. 15.”

Ken Nobis, president of the Michigan Milk Producers Association and a dairy farmer, said President Donald Trump last June placed an import tax on steel and aluminum because it is only produced in a few states. China retaliated against the U.S. by placing tariffs on agriculture items such as milk, soybeans, wheat and pork. 

Nobis said Michigan produces a lot of milk, which in turn helps the U.S. to export around 15% of the milk to China. Although the U.S. is exporting milk to China, he said because of the tariff war, U.S. exports to China were down 54% for the first part of this year compared to the previous time period last year.

“We made part of that up by selling more to southeast Asia and Mexico, but we potentially could have had those increased sales in southeast Asia and Mexico and still sell to China,” he said.

Despite the vast amount of milk that is produced in the U.S., Nobis said there are different types of high-end cheese that are not produced in the country, and as a result, they depend on other countries, including China, to import it into the U.S.

“When that product comes into the country, the importer pays that tariff and then that cost is passed along to the consumer,” Nobis said. “It doesn’t matter whether it is cheese or steel. It doesn’t matter what the product is, the consumer ends up paying for it. It doesn’t matter whether it is exported from Michigan or California or Arizona, it still has an effect on our prices here in Michigan. So, (tariffs) have had a fairly significant severe impact on prices in this country due to the drop in dairy trade that we potentially could have had.”

In an effort to help the agricultural industry, between 2018 and 2019, the Trump administration has paid out about $28 billion to U.S. farmers, according to Bloomberg.

“Anytime the government makes a payment, it comes from taxpayers paying taxes,” Nobis said.

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