Proposed tax on Mexican imports could hurt Minnesota farmers

The Trump administration’s proposal to create a 20 percent tax on Mexican imports to pay for the border wall could have a large impact on Minnesota farmers.

In Garden City, Kevin Paap, the Minnesota Farm Bureau President, runs his 600-acre corn and soybean farm. The two crops are Minnesota’s top two agricultural exports.

“One of out every three rows that we harvest is exported,” said Paap.

A large portion of those exports go to Mexico, which is Minnesota's third largest market for agricultural exports, according to a report by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. Mexico tops Minnesota’s export market for corn and ranks second largest for soybean.

In 2015, total Minnesota exports to Mexico equaled nearly $2.4 billion, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“We've got a very good relationship, very interdependent United States and Mexico,” said Paap.

But he says the Trump administration’s recent proposal on Mexican imports could strain that relationship.

“Trade has to be beneficial for both sides and that's why in the past it’s worked very well with Mexico, and we have some real concern if we have anything or do anything to jeopardize that relationship,” said Paap.

Mexico only accounted for about seven percent of Minnesota's imports in 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. But if the tariff goes in place, possible retaliation from Mexico could hurt farmers and ultimately consumers’ wallets.

“When you get poked at, people want to poke back and that's not going to be good for agriculture, that's not going to be good for our prices,” said Paap.

The Minnesota Farm Bureau plans to work with legislators to explain of the importance of the farming community’s trade relationship with Mexico.