© 2024 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

‘Are We Going To Be Able To Survive’: Kansas City Businesses Want Trade War To End

Aviva Okeson-Haberman
KCUR 89.3
Mark Garrett, the chief diversity and engagement officer at Smithfield Foods, was one of six business representatives who spoke Tuesday about tariffs.

Almost two months after President Donald Trump placed tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, several major businesses in the Kansas City area are calling for the trade war to end, although many of them have yet to feel the full effect.

The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and six businesses, representing a variety of interests, held a news conference about tariffs Tuesday.

Kansas City, Missouri-based craft brewery Boulevard Brewing Company talked about the aluminum market, which is where they source their materials for cans.

Boulevard is owned by Duvel USA, who sent Director of Supply Chain Justin Deardorff to speak. He said the company won’t see the effect of tariffs until September, when Boulevard has to negotiate a contract for its aluminum cans.

“Our focus is on quality in premium beer but we want to keep that affordable for consumers,” Deardorff said, adding this could affect pricing.

Meanwhile, Union Pacific, which has a major presence in Kansas City, relies on Japanese steel imports, which since June has had a 25 percent tariff. UP spokeswoman Lindsey Douglas said the first shipment of steel post-tariff went up by $6 million, causing it sit in San Francisco for four weeks. (Douglas declined to comment when asked how much steel was in that shipment.)

She said that Union Pacific disagrees with the Trump administration's approach, but not with the underlying message.

“Union Pacific strongly supports the administration for its efforts to level the playing field for American workers when it comes to trade, particularly when it comes to China’s trade practices,” Douglas said, adding that the company is in favor of renegotiating trade deals.

Other businesses like meat processor Smithfield Foods and Missouri Soybean Association vice president Ronnie Russell said they’re worried about the tariffs that China, Mexico and Canada put on U.S. goods as retaliation.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced last week that they’ll offer up to $12 billion worth of aid to farmers. And at a speech in Kansas City last week, Trump asked people to “be a little patient” when it comes to resolving trade disputes.

Russell, who is also a soybean farmer, said tariffs shouldn’t be a political issue.

“My concern is are we going to be able to survive until the end,” Russell said, adding, “a lot of people try to make this a political issue and let me just say farmers are blue. Farmers are red. Farmers are independent.

“This is not a political issue, this is a policy issue.”

Aviva Okeson-Haberman is a KCUR news intern. Follow her on Twitter @avivaokeson.

KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and award-winning podcasts.
Your donation helps keep nonprofit journalism free and available for everyone.