Yankton, South Dakota
By Sen. Mike Rounds R-South Dakota
(June 24, 2018)
Our local newspapers play an important role in educating the public and bringing communities together. They are the beating hearts of our towns and cities in South Dakota. We rely on them for updates on local news, wedding and birth announcements, sports, upcoming events and more. Newspapers, especially our local daily or weekly papers, keep us connected to our neighbors and our friends.
I recently met with the South Dakota Newspaper Association (SDNA) to talk about a serious issue that local papers are facing right now—tariffs on Canadian newsprint. During our meeting, SDNA Executive Director David Bordewyk and his colleagues stressed that these tariffs, which are climbing as high as 32 percent, would be devastating to South Dakota newspapers. Around 75 percent of newsprint used to print papers in the United States comes from Canada. During our meeting, SDNA told me that an 850 pound roll of newsprint will cost between $4-5 thousand per shipment with these costly tariffs.
With newsprint prices soaring, small papers will be forced to make difficult business decisions to stay afloat. Many papers in our state only employ a few staff members, so downsizing isn’t an option.
Additionally, they are only able to increase advertising and subscription prices by a reasonable amount each year—not enough to make up for what they’re forced to spend on newsprint. When our local papers close up shop, the entire community feels their absence. Nobody wants to see that happen.
Following my meeting with SDNA, I signed on to co-sponsor S. 2835, the Protecting Rational Incentives in Newsprint Trade (PRINT) Act of 2018. This legislation, introduced by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Angus King (I-Maine), would suspend the import taxes on uncoated groundwood paper while the Department of Commerce examines the effects of tariffs on the publishing and printing industry.
Right now, the tariffs are not permanent and will be reviewed by the International Trade Commission this summer. A final decision on making them permanent could come in September, and we hope to have a resolution before then.
Meanwhile, I will continue working to advance the PRINT Act in the Senate to provide relief to local papers and other publishers who rely on paper from Canada to print their daily or weekly paper. I thank the SDNA and David Bordewyk for strongly advocating for South Dakota’s local newspapers, who provide a vital service to South Dakota communities.