America’s Biggest Nail Producer Is Getting Hammered By Trump Tariffs

Where did these nails come from? Are they all-American nails from Poplar Bluff, Missouri? Or communist nails from mainland China?Image Source/ZUMAPRESS

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

Will the United States win its trade war with the rest of the world? Maybe, but there will be collateral damage in the meantime:

Mid-Continent Nail of Poplar Bluff, Mo., the largest U.S. nail manufacturer, cut 60 jobs on June 15 and plans to lay off an additional 200 workers in a few days, citing plummeting sales following the imposition of Trump’s metals tariffs….Mid-Continent Nail imports from Mexico most of the metal wire it uses to make nails. By driving up the company’s costs, Trump’s tariffs are making it nearly impossible for the 500-worker company to compete with cheap nails from China, [George Skarich, vice president of sales and marketing] said.

“The Chinese get a pass and we pay a price,” said Skarich. “Trump ran on jobs and making America great again, but he is making a decision that may help big steel, but it hurts downstream businesses like ours who employ a heck of a lot more people than steel does.”

“We didn’t see this coming,” says Skarich, echoing the words of farmers losing sales to Mexico, people in Kentucky losing access to Obamacare, working-class white folks losing their food stamps, and Harley-Davidson, which is moving some of its production offshore thanks to retaliation against Trump’s steel tariffs. And that’s just the start.

I’ll repeat my usual refrain here: Republicans can put a stop to this any time they want. But they won’t, even though they support free trade. This is how much they’re in thrall to Donald Trump. They won’t buck him even when (a) they disagree with him, (b) most of the public disagrees with him, and (c) his policies are causing pain to their own constituents. It kinda makes you wonder what the point of even having a Republican Party is these days.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend