President Trump today raised the tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods from the current 10% to 25%. He is also moving forward on placing a 25% tariff on an additional $325 billion on imports that currently are not covered. Trump has complained the trade negotiations between the United States and China are taking too long and the Chinese are backing away from earlier commitments.
President Trump, in a series of tweets today, says he continued to back tariffs as good for the U.S. economy. He says there is “absolutely no need to rush.” Also, “Tariffs will make our Country MUCH STRONGER, not weaker. Just sit back and watch.”
This is not what agricultural groups wanted to hear and are concerned by the actions taken by the administration.
Davie Stephens, president of the American Soybean Association says, “We have heard and believed the president when he says he supports farmers, but we’d like the president to hear us and believe what we are saying about the real-life consequences to our farms and families as this trade war drags on. Adding to current problems, it took us more than 40 years to develop the China soy market. For most of us in farming, that is two-thirds of our lives. If we don’t get this trade deal sorted out and the tariffs rescinded soon, those of us who worked to build this market likely won’t see it recover in our lifetime.”
National Corn Growers President Lynn Chrisp says, “Corn farmers are watching commodity prices decline amid ongoing tariff threats, even while many can’t get to spring planting because of wet weather. Holding China accountable for objectionable behavior is an admirable goal, but the ripple effects are causing harm to farmers and rural communities. Farmers have been patient and willing to let negotiations play out, but with each passing day, patience is wearing thin. Agriculture needs certainty, not more tariffs.”
Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue says at the request of the president, USDA is working on another aid package to make up for the losses as a result of the tariffs.
China’s Commerce Ministry announced that if the United States moves forward on increasing tariffs on Chinese goods it would have no choice but to implement countermeasures.
The Chinese trade delegation is in Washington, D.C., to continue the negotiations and try to resolve the major differences. Earlier in the week, there was concern the Chinese would cancel this week’s negotiations because of the increase in tariffs.
This trade war has to end soon or the damage already done to American agriculture will continue to increase dramatically.
Act to develop working group to modernize ag transportation
Congressman Greg Pence (R-IN) and Collin Peterson (D-MN) have introduced legislation, the “Modernizing Agricultural Transportation Act,” which would establish a Department of Transportation working group to examine the hours of service regulations and the electronic logging device regulations.
The working group would:
- Identify obstacles to the “safe, humane and market-efficient transport of livestock, insects and other perishable agricultural commodities” and
- Develop guidelines and recommend regulatory or legislative action to improve the transportation of these commodities.
The working group is to report to the secretary of Transportation its findings and recommendations that identify means to protect the “highway safety and allow for the safe, efficient and productive marketplace transport” of livestock, insects and perishable agricultural commodities.
A similar bill was introduced in the Senate by Sens. John Hoeven (R-ND) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) earlier this year.
Repealing Cuba agricultural export restrictions
As the Trump administration takes steps to reduce the Obama administration’s reforms with Cuba, Reps. Cheri Bustos (D-IL) and Rick Crawford (R-AR) have introduced the “Cuba Agricultural Exports Act” to expand trade opportunities for U.S. farmers and manufacturers.
The legislation would repeal restrictions on export financing and give producers access to USDA marking programs that help the United States compete in foreign markets. Currently, sales to Cuba are required to be done in cash. This legislation would provide Cubans with access to the standard credit terms offered to every other nation to which the United States exports agricultural products.
Bustos says, “… this legislation would expand agricultural trade with Cuba — because we need to protect and open new markets for farmers and ranchers.” Crawford says, “The Cuba embargo has been in place for several decades, yet it has done little to weaken the oppressive socialist government of Cuba and has instead stifled American business opportunities that are within a short reach.”