Irrigation photo

A corn field receives water from an irrigation system in Wisconsin.

Days after the United States and China enacted the latest round of tariff increases on each other’s goods, U.S. Rep. Ron Kind said new tariffs have been devastating for struggling Wisconsin farmers.

The tariffs are adding to the economic pressures already squeezing state farmers and resulting in record farm bankruptcies — nearly three a day in the Dairy State, Kind, D-La Crosse, said Wednesday in a conference call with reporters.

The congressman pointed out that agriculture is a primary driver of the state’s economy and that any negative impact on family farms also is harmful to other families and businesses.

“I’ve never seen a president work harder to plunge our nation into a recession,” Kind said, referring to what he called President Donald Trump’s trade war.

Kind criticized the GOP president for imposing unilateral tariffs on Chinese goods instead of working with other countries through the World Trade Association to achieve fairer trade practices.

It would be more effective to pressure China into reforming its trade practices by building a broad-based coalition, which would prevent China from retaliating against just the United States for increased tariffs, Kind said.

Instead, Kind said of Trump, “He’s only doubling down and incurring more economic damage to us by the day.”

A spokesman for the Republican Party of Wisconsin didn’t respond to a request for comment Wednesday afternoon.

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., told the Washington Examiner recently that, after doing many roundtables with state farmers and manufacturers, he has been surprised at the patience residents have shown with tariffs and their understanding that the U.S. has a real problem with China on trade.

“People who are really getting harmed by retaliation, loss of markets, losing money, delaying capital expenditures, all those type of things,” Johnson said. “But almost invariably, at the very tail end, they go, ‘But, I really do support what the president is trying to do.’”

A Marquette University Law School poll released Wednesday indicated that 46% of Wisconsin respondents said tariffs hurt the economy, while 30% said they help it.

Kind also is drafting a bill with Republican senators that would roll back some of the president’s authority on trade.

“There is wide bipartisan agreement that the president has overstepped his boundaries,” Kind said, noting that the Constitution indicates Congress should be the primary body administering trade policy. “It’s time for Congress to start clawing back a lot of that authority.”