Shipping containers sit on the the Hong Kong-based CSCL East China Sea container ship at the Port of Oakland on June 20, 2018. in Oakland, Calif. U.S. president Donald Trump has threatened to impose 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports if China retaliated against his previous tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese imports. Getty Images/Justin Sullivan

Let the trade war begin

Legislative Watch: Tariffs coming down hard on ag products; consumers not doing a good job in the kitchen.

The top three export markets for U.S. agriculture — China, Canada and Mexico — began imposing retaliatory tariffs this week against President Trump’s tariffs on steel, aluminum and intellectual property. The tariffs hit a number of U.S. agricultural products. These three markets represent approximately 44% of U.S. agricultural exports.

Today, China imposed tariffs on $34 billion of U.S. goods in response to Trump’s tariffs on Chinese products under Section 301 trade law for intellectual property theft and forced technology transfer. The 545 U.S. products hit with tariffs include beef, pork, soybeans, corn, wheat, cotton, catfish, oysters, wine, butter, cheese, sorghum and numerous fruits and vegetables. Today’s tariffs by China are in addition to the earlier ones imposed on U.S. pork, dairy, nuts and produce in retaliation to the tariffs that the United States placed on steel and aluminum.

The U.S. Meat Export Federation has estimated that China’s retaliatory tariffs on pork over a 12-month period could cost the U.S. pork industry $1.4 billion or more than $9 per head. USMEF says the tariffs will “stifle” emerging U.S. beef exports to China. The real loss for the U.S. beef industry is lost opportunities. According to the USMEF, beef exports to China in 2018 (pre-tariff) could reach $70 million and grow to $430 million by 2020.

All indications are neither side is willing to back down anytime soon. Trump has threatened additional tariffs on up to $500 billion of Chinese products.

This past Sunday, Canada imposed tariffs on $12.6 billion on U.S. goods. U.S. steel and iron face a 25% tariff. This is the same tariff rate that Trump imposed on imported Canadian steel. Other U.S. products, including cooked beef, yogurt, pizza, ketchup and whiskey, are hit with a 10% tariff.

On Thursday, the 10% tariffs imposed earlier by Mexico on essentially all U.S. chilled/frozen pork cuts doubled to 20%. Duties still in place are a 15% duty on sausages and a 20% duty on some prepared hams. Mexico is the U.S. pork industry’s largest market with $1.5 billion in sales.

Other U.S. agricultural products on the retaliatory list include:

• Apples — 20% tariff. Mexico is the largest export market for U.S. apples worth $215 million.
• Cheese — Mexico imposed tariffs of 10% increased to 20% on Italian-style cheeses and tariffs of 15% increased to 25% on fresh cheeses. Mexico is the largest export market for the U.S. dairy industry.
• Other products on the retaliatory list include grapes and potatoes.

The major concern for U.S. agriculture is how the trade war will last because agriculture is always a casualty in any trade war. The Carter grain embargo lasted approximately 16 months, but it took years for U.S. agriculture to recover.

Consumers spreading bacteria in their kitchens
Consumers are spreading dangerous bacteria in their kitchens but do not realize it, according to a new study by the USDA. The study found that 97% of the time consumers were not properly handwashing before meals which can lead to cross-contamination of food and other surfaces, resulting in foodborne illness.

The preliminary results found:

• Handwashing: the study revealed that consumers are not washing their hands correctly 97% of the time.

º Most consumers failed to wash their hands for the necessary 20 seconds, and
º Numerous participants did not dry their hands with a clean towel.

• Thermometer use: results reveal that only 34% of participants used a food thermometer to check that their burgers were cooked properly.

º Of those who did use the food thermometer, nearly half still did not cook the burgers to the safe minimum internal temperature.

• Cross contamination: the study showed participants spreading bacteria from raw poultry onto other surfaces and food items in the test kitchen.

º 48% of the time are contaminating spice containers used while preparing burgers,
º 11% of the time are spreading bacteria to refrigerator handles, and
º 5% of the time are tainting salads due to cross-contamination.

The study was conducted by USDA in collaboration with RTI International and North Carolina State University.

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