HomeUncategorizedMore on Tariff Dispute with China: USDA Secretary Says Farmers Will be Protected
More on Tariff Dispute with China: USDA Secretary Says Farmers Will be Protected
The U.S. will protect its farmers during rising trade tensions between the U.S. and China, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association yesterday (see Reuters). This follows a statement from USDA last week stating that it was looking for ways to shield farmers from the conflict between China and the U.S.
As previously reported on this blog last week, increased Chinese tariffs on a number of U.S. exports—including pork and certain fruits, nuts, and wine products—raised concern for agricultural producers. In response to those increased tariffs that became effective April 2, the U.S. announced possible new tariffs on Chinese products and China retaliated by threatening to impose tariffs on more U.S. products, including soybeans and beef. (USDA reports on the tariffs imposed and threatened by China on certain U.S. products can be found here and here.)
Senators from states that depend on agricultural exports have weighed in on the growing conflict between the U.S. and China.
Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) stated in a press release, “Soybean farmers are perhaps the most vulnerable to Chinese retaliation as nearly one in every three rows of soybeans grown in the U.S. is exported to China – valued at $14 billion every year…There is a real danger that increased tariffs on U.S. exports will harm Iowa producers and undermine the rural economy.”
Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) issued a stronger statement about the tariffs: “Hopefully the President is just blowing off steam again but, if he’s even half-serious, this is nuts. China is guilty of many things, but the President has no actual plan to win right now. He’s threatening to light American agriculture on fire. Let’s absolutely take on Chinese bad behavior, but with a plan that punishes them instead of us. This is the dumbest possible way to do this.”
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) called on the Trump administration to take steps to protect California agriculture from an escalating trade war with China. In an April 4 letter to Secretary Perdue, she stated: “President Trump has stated that the recent tariff announcements are intended to protect American jobs, but so far the only concrete result appears to be fewer markets and higher costs for farmers and ranchers. International trade is increasingly important and I am concerned that the voices of our farmers are not being heard by the administration.”
A study released by Purdue University on March 28, 2018, determined that soybean exports to China could drop by as much as 71% if China imposed trade restrictions on U.S. soybeans. Currently, the soybean trade is relative unrestricted by tariffs or other border measures, said Wally Tyner, one of the study’s authors.
Neither Secretary Purdue or President Trump have provided details on how farmers would be protected. However, in a April 9 USDA broadcast, Secretary Purdue re-emphasized, “We’re not going to allow agricultural producers to bear the brunt of China’s retaliation as we defend our own interest as a nation.” He added that he hoped that China and the U.S. will negotiate before the tariffs go into effect.