We know Trump’s trade tariffs have dealt a heavy blow to American farmers, who are currently facing weak demand due to dwindling markets. Soybeans have received most of the attention as analysts try to keep up with the fallout from this trade war, but virtually everything we produce is affected, even the lobster.
Foreign tariffs on American exports raise prices of American goods for foreign consumers, lowering their demand. This increases supply for any remaining markets, meaning lower prices for farmers’ goods and therefore less profit. American farmers are leaving their farms at a staggering pace, leading to consolidation of America’s agriculture in the hands of fewer and fewer corporate players. As the tariff war rages on, more of America’s food producers, including the lobster industry, are being caught in the crossfire.
The bigger problem is that the tariffs are destroying the years, decades, of relationships that American producers have worked so hard to create. Lobster has been enjoying a surge in Chinese demand thanks to their rising disposable wealth and a cultivated taste. The United States has fed this market into maturity, but it may be Canada that steps in to reap the rewards. Brazil is taking over to fulfill China’s demand for soybeans, and better quality soybeans at that. Alaskan salmon is also taking a hit, being replaced with salmon from Chile. The list goes on. All of this threatens especially small businesses who rely on seasonal income to stay afloat, and the loss of their trade relationships gives them little hope of recovering in the future.
The billions in bailouts Trump has offered to the agriculture industry is paltry compared even to the direct losses. Consider also the long-term detriment to industries that have forged a network across the Pacific, and the outcome is dire for the livelihoods of America’s farmers and fishermen. This situation is caused by nothing short of incompetence, which is too often manifest in this president as a myopic disdain for complexity and depth. We can’t afford to depress profits further in the interest of presidential ego. We can do better. We must demand better.