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Louisiana industries could see effects of national trade issue

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ST. GABRIEL – New tariffs on goods like soybeans established by China against the U.S. has one mayor in South Louisiana worried. The move could have a negative effect on Louisiana industries.

“That trade affects all of us along the Mississippi River,” said St. Gabriel Mayor Lionel Johnson Jr. Johnson is also the co-chair of the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative, where the goal is to preserve the river’s economic and environmental impact.

“We do $7.9 billion worth of exports [along the South Louisiana port], and 70 to 73 percent of that is agriculture, particularly soybeans,” said Johnson.

With a new 25 percent tariff on the crop, Johnson says it will become more expensive to ship it down the river.

“That cost has to carry on somewhere else,” said Johnson. “It could mean a loss for farmers. It could mean less employees being employed by the farmers.”

The mayor says Louisiana produces more than 1 million acres of the soybeans, including right in his city. These farmers are already feeling the negative effects.

"It's dropped, since April, about $2 a bushel,” he said.

With it being the very beginning of this trade war between the U.S. and China, Johnson fears things could get worse.

"Worse case is we lose the ability to trade outside, and we don't know now how we can make up any loses that we potentially incur."

Johnson says consumers could be the last to feel the effects of the tariffs, with an increase in prices at the store. Other goods China has put a tariff on includes automobiles, lobsters and beef.

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