Heitkamp Presses U.S. Trade Rep about Impacts of Potential Tariffs

Rusty Halvorson and Sen. Heitkamp visit in her D.C. office in May, 2017.

U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp Wednesday spoke with U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer and pressed him to protect North Dakota’s agriculture and manufacturing sectors as the administration considers imposing tariffs on Chinese goods and continues to participate in NAFTA renegotiations with Canada and Mexico.

 During their phone call, Heitkamp underscored the importance of exporting to the bottom lines of North Dakota farmers, ranchers, and workers. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, North Dakota is the ninth largest agriculture exporting state in the country, with $5.3 billion in goods exported worldwide in 2017.  

 We spoke with Senator Heitkamp via telephone on Wednesday to talk about trade, the farm bill, and the RFS.

“Guaranteeing that North Dakota farmers and ranchers have fair access to foreign markets is one of my top priorities– especially when 95 percent of potential consumers live beyond our borders,” said Heitkamp. “The trade uncertainty caused by potential Chinese tariffs, U.S. tariffs on aluminum and steel, and NAFTA talks is already making North Dakota producers nervous, especially as farmers are making difficult decisions about planting season. I have repeatedly urged USTR Lighthizer to recognize the harmful repercussions that misguided tariffs would have on our state. We must hold China accountable and use trade enforcement to our advantage, but those at the table shouldn’t gamble with the livelihoods of farm families. I won’t stand for our farmers and ranchers being shut out from critical foreign markets, and I’ll keep fighting for the ability of our rural communities to survive and thrive.”

Heitkamp has continued to work with Lighthizer to try to preserve and expand North Dakota’s agriculture, energy, and manufacturing trade relationships, and speaks with him regularly about the administration’s trade policies. Last year, Heitkamp secured a commitment from Lighthizer to protect agriculture in any NAFTA renegotiation, particularly  as North Dakota farmers faced drought and low commodity prices. And in a January meeting with Lighthizer, she outlined her agenda to stabilize agriculture markets, protect exporters, preserve critical cattle and beef markets, and build new trade relationships abroad.