By Esme Murphy

EASTON, Minn. (WCCO) — Fears of a trade war rose Monday, when the Chinese government announced its own tariffs on imports including pork.

Minnesota is the number three pork producer in the nation, and there’s concern about what impact a 25 percent tariff will have on local farmers.

Pork industry officials here in Minnesota and across the country could not give an estimate of what percentage of the U.S.’s $1 billion in pork exports comes from Minnesota. But it’s clear Minnesota pork producers are concerned.

“It’s something that we’re watching very closely,” Lori Stevermer said.

WCCO’s Esme Murphy went to the Stevermer family’s pig farm in Easton, Minnesota, 30 miles west of Albert Lea. Stevermer is on the Executive Board of the Minnesota Pork Producers Association.

“I am concerned. Trade and exports are very important to our business,” she said.

The National Pork Producers Council agrees. Spokesperson Jim Monroe said, “It’s not good for producers. We need to be expanding markets not shrinking them.”

China’s move is in retaliation for President Trump’s tariffs on imported Chinese aluminum and steel.

The Stevermers’ farm is in Easton, Minnesota, in the southern band of Minnesota rural counties that voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump in 2016. Stevermer is one of those Trump voters.

“A lot of things that Trump did for us was good,” she said.

But she says she would like to talk to the president about the tariff and the trade standoff with China.

“I would ask him to please consider those of us in the rural area and to take a look at the situation and see if there is something that they can’t do with China to find an answer that works for both companies,” Stevermer said.

It remains to be seen if this 25 percent tariff will hurt the president’s support as he continues to campaign for Republican victories in the 2018 November midterm elections.

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