Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

By Steve Hansen

Tariffs could hurt state in long run


Ranked at 46th among states in exports, New Mexico still has a stake in trade wars against friends and foes, which seems to be a goal of President Donald Trump.

Trump still thinks global trade is a problem we need to solve 30 years after world-based commerce has become the norm.

There are a lot of manufactured goods made in our state that could see sales affected by foreign tariffs, according to federal census and trade data on websites, but in eastern New Mexico, dairy and agriculture stand out.

Dairy products are just behind tree nuts like pecans among New Mexico’s exported agricultural products. Dairy farming is huge in eastern New Mexico if not in Quay County, where we raise mostly beef cattle.

Statewide, dairy exports from New Mexico totaled $261.8 million in 2016, according to federal statistics.

New Mexico also exports $89.1 million in beef, however.

China has placed six beef products and 21 dairy products on its list of products subject to retaliatory tariffs. New Mexico is ninth in the nation in dairy production and 23rd in beef production.

Quay County sold $23 million in beef products in 2016, the most recent year for which statistics are available. It’s hard to say how much of that is exported to China or to Mexico, which is New Mexico’s largest foreign trading partner, but tariffs in retaliation for the president’s assaults on both nations in the name of — well, the president — could hurt beef markets in our county, as well.

I have long been suspect of our trade relations with China, not because we were getting a raw deal, but because I have doubts about our support of a repressive regime that is challenging our leadership in Asia through trade or other alliances.

We will see similar raises in tariff rates on these products even among our allies who Trump has decided should be rivals, however, which could cause significant harm to our agriculture exports.

Eastern New Mexico does have a large stake in the trade wars. Overall, Wallet Hub, which recently did a study of tariff impacts of a trade war with Mexico, showed New Mexico would suffer the fourth highest consequences among U.S. states in trade combat with our southern neighbor.

New Mexico can’t really afford to suffer more economic damage. We already rank near the bottom in too many measures of economic health.

The best we can hope for is to maintain Trump opponents in federal office this year, and support viable Republican and Democratic candidates to unseat Trump in 2020.

Steve Hansen writes about our life and times from his perspective of a retired Tucumcari journalist. Contact him at:




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