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‘Bullwhip’ effects of tariffs buffeting U.S. farmers, Broad College expert writes in influential political publication

By Omar Sofradzija

U.S. farmers are beginning to feel to their detriment the “bullwhip” effects of tariffs, Eli Broad College of Business professor Tomas Hult wrote in one of the nation’s most influential political publications recently.

Hult, who is an international trade expert appearing as an opinion contributor for the Hill, a Washington, D.C.-based political newspaper and Web site, wrote that “the agricultural industry is just the latest, newsworthy victim” of escalating tariffs, some of which are targeting economic sectors that have nothing to do with original tariff targets.

Tomas Hult
Tomas Hult, Eli Broad College of Business professor of marketing, Byington Endowed Chair, and director of the Broad College’s International Business Center.

“U.S. farmers stand to lose sales and be hurt by tariffs against them from various world markets as a measured response to tariffs the U.S. initiated in unrelated industries,” Hult wrote in the Hill. “In this case, we then see a complex network of bullwhip effects across economic sectors and industries — not just the normal upstream and downstream supply chain effects.”

As a result “the U.S. government is now saying that we need to help the U.S. agricultural sector with a $12 billion subsidy,” Hult wrote in the Hill. “This targeted subsidy is needed so U.S. farmers can compete better with foreign producers. To many, the agricultural subsidy came as somewhat of a random solution to a problem that really should not exist, nor does it provide a solution most U.S. farmers or a capitalistic system want.”

Hult is the Byington Endowed Chair of the Department of Marketing, a professor of marketing and international business, director of the International Business Center at the Broad College, and executive director of the Academy of International Business at MSU. He was asked by the Hill to contribute his expertise to the policy discussion.

Hult is a frequently-cited scholar regarding international business, and opinion pieces he has authored have previously been published and shared by Time magazine, Fortune magazine, and the World Economic Forum, among others. You can read the full opinion piece in the Hill here.


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