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Trade War: Farmers & ranchers are the unfortunate casualties

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After China’s second round of retaliation tariffs was announced Wednesday, it became clear that hard-working U.S. farmers are in the line of fire from what looks more and more like an escalating trade war with China.

“There are no winners in a trade war, only casualties.  As trade tensions continue to mount with China, the expanded list of tariffs on food and agriculture exports are making America’s farmers the first casualties,” said Texas farmer Wesley Spurlock, chairman of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA).

“Our corn farmers have worked for decades to support fair and open trade practices because we understand that trade is a two-way street.  In today’s global economy, we know that we need to be competitive to grow and maintain our market share.  Our farmers have done that, which is why agriculture has a positive trade balance.  In 2018, the U.S. is forecast to export $139.5 billion in agricultural goods to the 95 percent of consumers who live outside the U.S.  Instead of new protectionist policies, our nation’s focus should be on growing market access and promoting expanded trade from our most competitive industries.”

The National Sorghum Producers say Chinese customers are valued trading partners of the U.S. sorghum industry and farmers, purchasing over half of total U.S. sorghum exports.

“Unfortunately, this is not the first time sorghum farmers have faced depressed prices and market uncertainty. We saw a similar reaction after the announcement of anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations on imports of U.S. sorghum into China on February 4, following the Administration’s tariff action on imports of Chinese solar panels and washing machines,” said NSP Chairman and Nebraska farmer Don Bloss. “Trade wars are not good for anyone, and we urge President Trump and other negotiators to take a constructive approach in the ongoing negotiations that do not threaten more harm to U.S. sorghum producers. Our hope is that this situation will be resolved sooner rather than later. Sorghum is good for U.S. farmers and traders, and good for China.”

Kent Bacus, Director of International Trade and Market Access for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, said its upsetting to have American cattlemen and women caught in this endless trade retaliation.

“It is unsettling to see American-produced beef listed as a target for retaliation. Sadly, we are not surprised, as this is an inevitable outcome of any trade war,” Bacus said. “This is a battle between two governments, and the unfortunate casualties will be America’s cattlemen and women and our consumers in China. The Trump Administration has until the end of May to resolve this issue. We believe in trade enforcement, but endless retaliation is not a good path forward for either side.”

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) still want to see the U.S. government keep fighting for fair opportunities to compete in China and other countries. They would prefer, however, to see the government do that within the processes already in place, as the Administration has done by challenging China’s domestic support and tariff rate quota policies through World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute cases. The wheat industry urges the Administration to pull back from this dangerous course that puts vulnerable U.S. industries like wheat production at risk and in a larger sense undermines the established rules-based global trading system.

“People may not know that China imported more than 61 million bushels of U.S. wheat in marketing year 2016/17, making it our fourth largest buyer in the world,” said USW Chairman Mike Miller, a wheat farmer from Ritzville, Washington. “Farmers across the country have invested a lot of money and time over the years to develop a Chinese market that has great potential to buy even more American wheat. Now that effort is in jeopardy at a time when big global supplies have already pushed farm gate wheat prices down to unsustainable levels.”

“America’s wheat farmers are experiencing several hardships and adding a 25 percent tariff on exports to China for U.S. wheat is the last thing we need during some of the worst economic times in farm country,” stated NAWG President Jimmie Musick a wheat farmer from Sentinel, Oklahoma. “Continued drought, low prices and trade uncertainty adds pressure to passing a Farm Bill on time as well as creating uncertainty for producers and lenders. In a trade war, agriculture is always the first target. The Administration can support rural Americans by working with Chinese officials to avoid these damaging tariffs.”

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue responded on Twitter this morning to reassure farmers that he has been in contact with President Trump and ag will not be affected by these recent trade discussions.

Any views or opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect those of AGDAILY. Comments on this article reflect the sole opinions of their writers.
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