SOUTH HUTCHINSON — U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall, R-Great Bend, said he’s “trying to lobby the executive branch” to not have tariffs or trade wars. He also calls the separation of migrant children from parents under the Trump Administration’s crackdown at the U.S.-Mexico border “a terrible situation.”
Marshall spent much of Monday in the Hutchinson area before flying back to Washington, D.C., where Congress will be in session Tuesday. Work on the Farm Bill and immigration are expected this week.
The Trump Administration recently implemented tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada and Mexico. Those tariffs adversely affect the agriculture, oil, and aviation sectors in Kansas, according to Marshall.
“These are real people,’ he said, of those feeling the impact.
One is Mike Bergmeier, president of Shield Agricultural Equipment, South Hutchinson. He expects a one-year order for a large blade will cost an additional $85,000 because of a new 25 percent tariff on steel imported from Canada. As far as Bergmeier knows, only a mill in Manitoba produces the needed material. He wants an exemption, and Marshall said 18,000 have asked for an exemption from Section 232 dealing with steel and aluminum tariffs.
Bergmeier wrote an email to Marshall, which the Congressman relayed to U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. Bergmeier also invited Marshall to visit his manufacturing operation in South Hutchinson, and Marshall was there Monday.
Just as manufacturing and the economy were heading up, Marshall said, “all of a sudden these tariffs hit us and these trade wars hit us.” Potentially, they could upend the economy because of a domino effect, Marshall said.
Bergmeier said he has no choice but to pass on the price increase. Farmers can expect to feel the impact, and the tariffs also could affect the Shield Ag’s workforce of 42 to 44.
Shield Ag sells to original equipment manufacturers such as Landoll Corporation, Marysville, which also will be touched. Bergmeier mentioned company executive Dan Landoll.
“I don’t want to talk to Dan Landoll right now,” Marshall said. “He’ll chew my ear off, as he should.”
A pet food maker in Emporia is affected because the product is sold in cans, Marshall pointed out. Spirit aircraft fuselages are made with aluminum, Marshall noted.
Also on the trade front, Marshall said agriculture needs the replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement to be completed.
“I’m holding him accountable,” Marshall said of Trump, regarding NAFTA. “It’s been a year and a half.”
After Marshall spoke earlier this month on Fox News’ America’s News Headquarters about farmers and trade policies, he received his first phone call from President Trump, who was aboard Air Force One. Trump complimented Marshall and promised he would bring it home for the farmers. They should stick with him, Trump said, according to Marshall.
Marshall said he doesn’t think a personal visit to Texas to see children who are being held after they have been separated from their parents who have crossed the Mexico-U.S. border would solve anything. But he said considered the possibility of a visit. The separation is being carried out as the administration cracks down on those entering illegally at the border.
“I think separation is terrible,” he said. “The whole situation is terrible.”
He and other House Republicans will meet with Trump June 19, when the President comes to Capitol Hill to discuss immigration legislation.
Under the proposed legislation, Marshall said, those families who cross the border illegally under the guise of asylum would not have the children removed. Marshall said one purpose of the session with the President is to learn what kind of immigration legislation he would sign.
Immigration is one of the top issues in areas of the 1st District, Marshall said.
“The communities that are economically successful now have embraced immigration,” Marshall said.