Comments made last week by White House trade adviser Peter Navarro that President Trump’s trade strategy is not as disruptive as many describe did not sit well with members of the American Farm Bureau. Navarro told CNBC that the economic impact of a trade war is a mere “rounding error” and that the administration is playing a broader “chess board.”
“White House trade advisor Peter Navarro’s recent comments that the damage this trade war is doing to certain sectors of the U.S. economy, of which we all know includes agriculture, is little more than a ‘rounding error’ are out of touch with the pain our farmers and ranchers are experiencing. Making farmers and ranchers pawns in this chess game is extremely risky for our nation’s agriculture economy and food security,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall.
“Prices for all of our export-sensitive farm goods have tanked since May, when this tariff game started. Farm income was already off by half compared to four years ago, with debt levels rising—hardly a strong position for agriculture going into this trade war. This situation will only worsen as combines roll between now and the fall election season. The nation’s farmers and ranchers support the broader goal of strengthening our overall economy and trade balance, but not at the risk of long-term, irreparable harm to our ag exports and the jobs they create.
“Farmers and ranchers are looking for reasons to be optimistic about the current trade situation. We need a win. We must wrap up this trade war quickly, complete the negotiations with Mexico and Canada, and open more markets by negotiating deals with Japan, the UK and other trade partners around the world.”
Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) also called out Navarro.
“Mr. Navarro, America’s farmers are caught in the crosshairs of this game of ‘chess.’ Offhand comments like the ones that Mr. Navarro made in his interview with CNBC today disregard the people whose livelihoods depend on global trade. In Iowa alone, more than 456,000 jobs are supported by trade, and these new tariffs are threatening $977 million in state exports. That is no ‘rounding error.’ Those are real people – Iowans – who are waiting for terms to be negotiated, for new deals to be finalized. We need to lessen the pressure on these hard-working farmers, and let them sell their goods,” Ernst said.
“Iowans come to me every day to talk about trade, trade, trade and the RFS. And, I have had productive conversations with Ambassador Lighthizer, Secretary Perdue and President Trump about the administration’s hard work to open up new markets for our products and finalize pending deals. Farmers are optimistic, but we can’t take optimism to the bank. Comments like the ones made by Mr. Navarro hurt that progress and hurt our farmers.”