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Local grain bin dealer says customers feeling tariff squeeze

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KINDRED, N.D.—For Superior Grain Equipment, steel costs 20 percent more now than it did three months ago.

Superior has massive amounts of inexpensive steel in reserve, and hasn't had to increase prices as much as competitors who are relying on current prices.

The reserves won't last forever though, and neither will Superior's prices.

"We haven't had a price increase for a long time, so now it's a bitter pill to swallow," says Josh Rauser, the Sales Manager for Superior.

But with bins costing as much as $2 per bushel of storage, farmers can easily spend $100,000 on a bin.

The threat of prices increasing even more means Josh Rauser's job has changed in the last few months.

He's not just competing against other bin dealers.

"Steel goes into building tractors pickups, you name it,' Rauser said.

He says many farmers have to choose between the essentials.

Rauser says Superior does what it can to keep prices down, but it's been a struggle of late.

"A lot has to be eaten up internally so it's bearable for the farmer,' Rauser said.

He says many fear prices could continue to soar, forcing them to buy sooner than later.

"There's guys that were shopping bins four months ago, saying "banker says we can't do it." now they're calling back saying "the banker says we have to do it," Rauser said.

It's not all doom and gloom though.

While farmers may get pinched right now, profits for major American steel manufacturers have soared, with some recording record quarters.

It's not immediately clear what the 12 billion dollar aid package from Washington will mean for farmers hurt in this trade war.

Rauser believes steel prices will continue to climb in the short-term, but isn't sure what the tariffs could mean long-term.

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