Why America’s Cheese Capital Is at the Center of Trump’s Trade War

Plymouth, Wisconsin, styles itself as “the cheese capital of the world.” The town of 8,445 people, about an hour north of Milwaukee, was once the site of the National Cheese Exchange where cheese commodity prices were set and today about 15 percent of all U.S. cheese passes through the town.

Why America’s Cheese Capital Is at the Center of Trump’s Trade War

Now Plymouth residents are worried they will become one of the first big victims of Donald Trump’s escalating trade war. In retaliation for his administration’s tariffs on steel and aluminium, the U.S.’s largest trading partners, Canada, China, the EU and Mexico, have all targeted the cheese industry with regulations and extra duties and this week raised the stakes, adding more duties as the threat of an all-out trade war grows.

Cheese may seem an unlikely target for an international trade dispute. But the retaliation is a well-aimed political kick directed at a state that produces 27 percent of the country’s cheese (3.37bn pounds in 2017) and which Trump barely won in the last election.

Another Wisconsin native, Harley-Davidson, is also on the hitlist. Trump’s opponents are hoping their moves will rattle Republicans who fear their yet to be announced replacement for their outgoing House speaker, Paul Ryan, could lose his seat to a Democrat.

But hitting dairy hurts Wisconsin far more than knocking its famous motorbikes. Harley’s revenues were $5.6bn last year and it employs about 5,800 people. The dairy industry contributes $43.4bn to Wisconsin’s economy each year and the state is home to about 8,500 dairy farms, more than any other state.

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Now Plymouth residents are worried they will become one of the first big victims of Donald Trump’s escalating trade war. In retaliation for his administration’s tariffs on steel and aluminium, the U.S.’s largest trading partners, Canada, China, the EU and Mexico, have all targeted the cheese industry with regulations and extra duties and this week raised the stakes, adding more duties as the threat of an all-out trade war grows.

Cheese may seem an unlikely target for an international trade dispute. But the retaliation is a well-aimed political kick directed at a state that produces 27 percent of the country’s cheese (3.37bn pounds in 2017) and which Trump barely won in the last election.

Another Wisconsin native, Harley-Davidson, is also on the hitlist. Trump’s opponents are hoping their moves will rattle Republicans who fear their yet to be announced replacement for their outgoing House speaker, Paul Ryan, could lose his seat to a Democrat.

But hitting dairy hurts Wisconsin far more than knocking its famous motorbikes. Harley’s revenues were $5.6bn last year and it employs about 5,800 people. The dairy industry contributes $43.4bn to Wisconsin’s economy each year and the state is home to about 8,500 dairy farms, more than any other state.

Read full article

Why America’s Cheese Capital Is at the Center of Trump’s Trade War