Why trade matters for small retailers

When it comes to global trade policy, no corner of the United States is too remote to escape the impact or the benefits. In South Dakota, retailers like Gary Cammack, owner of Cammack Ranch Supply, depend on a thriving, trade-reliant agriculture industry. At the same time, farmers and ranchers count on retailers like Cammack Ranch Supply for their tools and equipment, which often include components imported from outside the U.S. Unfortunately, the direction of ongoing trade discussions in Washington could have a negative ripple effect across South Dakota communities, hurting everyone from farmers and ranchers to retailers and the workers they employ.

Cammack may be far from Capitol Hill, but he’s paying close attention to NAFTA negotiations, debates over tariffs and more. NRF had a chance to chat with Cammack and discuss the issues that concern him most.

Already, the tariffs have sparked a 10 to 15 percent cost increase on products and equipment that contain steel.

Gary Cammack

How important is global trade to you and your business?

Being as far away from an ocean as you can get in the United States, you would think that global trade would not have a significant impact on us. But because the American rancher produces more beef than can be consumed domestically, our markets depend on export markets. The health and vitality of foreign trade is a key contributor to the market moves in the beef industry. In addition, the cost of equipment and inputs for agriculture businesses is absolutely tied to free and fair trade.

How does trade impact your customers?

Free and fair trade determines profitability or loss in the beef industry. Global trade is a key determining factor in cost on the expense side of the ledger.

What imports and exports are particularly important to your business and how do they help your business grow?

Exports are particularly important to the beef industry; robust trade with our Asian rim partners can easily add $200-$300 per head additional value. Imports can add or subtract to the bottom line depending on the scenario.

More on global trade

NRF believes the United States needs a 21st century trade policy. Learn more.

As a ranch supplier, how will the U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum impact your business?

The steel and aluminum tariffs can only serve to increase our cost of doing business. Already, the tariffs have sparked a 10 to 15 percent cost increase on products and equipment that contain steel. I may be forced to raise prices on steel barbed wire that we sell to ranchers from $60.95 to as high as $67.

How will China’s retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agriculture exports affect your business and farmers in your community?

China’s retaliatory tariffs have the potential to put a substantial amount of additional pork on the U.S. market, thereby affecting the balance and supply of red meat in the U.S. In our area, we produce strictly beef cattle, and a tariff on pork would create a surplus situation. When that happens, if people aren’t making any money, they won’t spend it in my store.

Should the U.S. rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership? How would this trade agreement impact your business?

Without a doubt, TPP is critically valued because it impacts some of the most important trading partners that import our agricultural products.

Are you concerned over the direction of the NAFTA negotiations? How is this agreement important to your business?

I can’t help but be concerned over the NAFTA negotiations. Most people don’t realize that Canada and Mexico are our largest trading partners when it comes to agricultural products. A thriving agriculture sector is critical to my business and withdrawing from NAFTA would certainly have an adverse impact.

Watch the video below to learn more about the Cammack family's businesses.

Cammack Ranch Supply: It runs in the family