NAFEM co-sponsors Trade Builds America Day in Washington, D.C.

On Sept. 25, NAFEM co-sponsored Trade Builds America, an event that attracted nearly 200 media, Capitol Hill staffers and influencers at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The event focused on the challenges trade tariffs are imposing on small business owners, farmers, consumers and others.

Steve Forbes, editor-in-chief of Forbes magazine and a Republican candidate in the 1996 and 2000 presidential primaries and Kansas’ First District Congressman Roger Marshall, M.D., were key participants in the event. During the event, Forbes stated “Tariffs are another way of saying ‘sales tax’.” Instead, he encouraged the U.S. Trade Representative to “…deal with the specific issue in a way that doesn’t hurt us.”

NAFEM member Chris Scott, president, Howard/McCray, provided his perspective as a small-business owner as a panelist during the event. Other panelists included: Ron Romero, owner, Schaefer’s TV and Appliance; Chris Pratt, operations general manager, Mid-Continent Nail; and Kristin Weeks Duncanson, owner, Duncanson Growers and Highland Family Farms.

According to Chris, small U.S. manufacturers like Howard/McCray, without long-term contracts with suppliers, took an “immediate and significant financial hit” when the tariffs on imported steel and aluminum went into effect June 1.

“On our very next order, prices for raw materials and component parts made with these materials increased by 25 percent,” Chris said. “To compound this situation, competitive products that are imported from China are not yet subject to tariffs, so it’s a no-win situation.” Chris further explained that some Chinese competitors also have begun manufacturing in other Asian countries to circumvent proposed import tariffs.

Diane added that, “The steel and aluminum tariffs, combined with the steady stream of regulations that are forcing us and other U.S. companies to frequently re-engineer our products, make it difficult for U.S. manufacturers to compete both domestically and internationally.”

The Scotts recently hosted representatives from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Advocacy, an independent voice for small businesses within the federal government, at their operation. The SBA Office was interested in learning more about the foodservice manufacturing industry, so representatives visited NAFEM members Howard/McCray and Continental Refrigerators. As a follow-up to this meeting, the Scotts were invited to share their perspective at Trade Builds America Day.

In addition to NAFEM, other co-sponsors included the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Retail Federation, Farmers for Free Trade, Coalition of American Metal Manufacturers and Users, and Americans for Prosperity.

Watch the panel from the event, here.