POPLAR BLUFF, MO (KFVS) - U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill toured nail factories at Mid-Continent Steel and Wire in Poplar Bluff, Missouri on Friday, June 29.
Mid-Continent Nail is the largest U.S. producer of steel nails.
She met with employees and discussed the impact tariffs are having on Missouri businesses.
McCaskill says that tariffs put in place throughout history have not been successful in creating net job gains, and believes the recent steel and aluminum tariffs have been applied in a way that will do more damage than good.
"It doesn't matter with the tariffs, people are still going to cheat," said McCaskill. "That is why we've got to have a much more bold enforcement strategy as it relates to trade. The irony of the situation is they are chasing all of the customers of Mid-Continent nail into the arms of the Chinese because the nails that are replacing the ones that were sold out of this facility are coming in from China. So it's having the exact opposite impact that the president said he wanted it to have."
The nail manufacturer in Poplar Bluff laid off dozens of employees in June and it's possible the situation could get much worse.
"It appears to me that in a chaotic and frankly incompetent manner, you're picking winners and losers on very technical bases according to all the reporting we have, without a great deal of training, and the regulatory burden is so extreme on small businesses," McCaskill said to Secretary Ross at a recent hearing. "…The majority of nails that are manufactured in this country come from a company called Mid Continent Nail Corporation in Poplar Bluff, Missouri…So far, in response to the tariff, they have lost almost half of their business in one month due to price."
Leaders at Mid-Continent including Chris Pratt, the operations general manager at the nail factory, have written an open letter to President Trump asking him to fast track an exclusion of their raw materials from Section 232 tariffs to stop any further layoffs or even a factory closure form happening.
"What I would say (to President Trump) is exercise the power that you have, sign our exclusions, save our jobs here in Poplar Bluff and save many other American finished goods and manufacturing jobs as well,"Pratt said. "His campaign is 'Make America Great'. Well one size doesn't fit all. Let's make sure we make everything great."
We reached out to Congressman Jason Smith on Thursday, June 28 to ask if he'd talked to President Trump about how the tariffs have affected a business in Smith's district. He said:
In March, the Trump Administration announced 25 percent tariffs on steel and 10 percent tariffs on aluminum. Currently, only imports of steel and aluminum from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, and South Korea are exempted from the tariffs.