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REAL LIFE: Tariffs Hurt the Heartland is a multi-million-dollar campaign telling the story of farmers, factory workers and consumers paying the true cost of tariffs.

“Tariffs Hurt the Heartland” campaign is launched

Farmers for Free Trade will use advertising across the country to push for an end to use of tariffs.

President Trump was in northeast Iowa yesterday for a roundtable discussion with farmers, business leaders and political officials on rural economic development and job creation. That same day a national campaign was launched by the group Farmers for Free Trade, pushing for an end to Trump’s policy of using tariffs to try to combat what Trump says are unfair trade practices by China, Canada, Mexico and other countries that buy U.S. products—including ag products such as soybeans, pork, beef, corn and more.

Countries targeted with higher tariffs by the U.S. are retaliating by raising their tariffs on products they buy from the U.S. The result so far: “An international trade war is escalating because of this tariff spat,” says Brian Kuehl, executive director of Farmers for Free Trade. 

Multi-million-dollar ad campaign begins

A multi-million-dollar advertising campaign will highlight the real-life stories of how tariffs are causing real pain to U.S. farmers and ranchers, he says. “We will push for an end to the job-killing trade war by airing TV, digital, radio and print advertising as well as organizing town hall meetings in communities across the country.”

Scott Henry, a corn and soybean farmer who runs LongView Farms in central Iowa, is one of many farmers hurt by Trump’s tariff policy. Although Henry voted for Trump in 2016, he issued this statement yesterday: 

“I’m a fourth-generation farmer at LongView Farms, and as our name implies, we take the ‘long view’ when it comes to the business of agriculture. Policy interference and restricted market access are two surefire ways to hamper innovation and long-term growth. I’ve joined the Tariffs Hurt the Heartland campaign, because we clearly need a new way to get through to the president, so he hears our message loud and clear: tariffs hurt us. Clear the path for trade of homegrown agricultural products, and we’ll succeed.” –Scott Henry of Longview Farms

Ad running on national cable networks

Farmers for Free Trade is a bipartisan coalition that’s leading farmer opposition to tariffs, says Kuehl. Announcing on July 26 the launch of Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, the coalition issued a statement saying, “This new, multi-million-dollar campaign will highlight the widespread economic pain the trade war causes for middle America, particularly American farmers, manufacturers, workers and consumers.” 

The first ad in the new campaign against tariffs is now running on national cable networks. It highlights the disconnect between Americans who are suffering the consequences of the trade war and Washington, D.C., where White House trade advisor Peter Navarro recently called the impacts of tariffs merely a “rounding error.” To see the ad, visit

“This coordinated campaign will tell the real-life stories of American farmers, manufacturers, factory workers and families hurt by the on-going trade war through loss of jobs, cancelled contracts and increased prices,” says Kuehl. “Washington lawmakers are advancing tariffs that cause pain to the very people who drive our economy. That pain will get worse as these policies continue to spur retaliation from other countries.” 

Other efforts in addition to ad campaign

To push back against the advancing trade war, “we will tell the stories of the jobs, businesses and consumers who are too often being ignored by the people who make our nation’s policies but fail to consider the real-life cost,” says Kuehl. In addition to paid television, radio, digital and print advertising, the campaign will also:

  • Have a full time rapid-response media operation to share stories of tariff impacts across the country and oppose trade policies that are harming American families,
  • Host town hall meetings throughout the August congressional recess and into fall to hear directly from Americans bearing the brunt of the trade war,
  • Launch an interactive searchable mapso visitors to can see the impacts of tariffs in their states and Congressional districts,
  • Drive the conversation about tariff impacts on social media through infographics, videos and other media highlighting real-life stories of tariff pain. 

Tariffs Hurt the Heartland, the first TV ad

The campaign’s first advertisement was released July 26 to run on Fox News, CNBC and CNN, as well as in Iowa, Pennsylvania and Michigan, before running in additional states. The 30 second spot, titled “Rounding Error,” includes comments made last week on CNBC by Navarro, who said: “The amount of trade that we’re affecting with the tariffs is a rounding error.”

The ad contrasts Navarro’s statement, which the Wall Street Journal called “out of touch” with headlines across the country. The headlines are on news articles about farmers, factory workers, consumers and rural communities feeling the pain of the trade war. The ad implores President Trump to end the trade war.

According to information on its website, Farmers for Free Trade is a bipartisan, non-profit campaign to rebuild support at grassroots level for trade policies that benefit American agriculture. The campaign is backed by major organizations, businesses and commodity groups in addition to other supporters concerned about the consequences of tariffs and retaliation on rural communities. Farmers for Free Trade will be inviting other stakeholders and impacted industry groups in coming weeks to join the Tariffs Hurt the Heartland campaign.

For more on the campaign visit

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