Ag Democrats unimpressed with trade aid, Conaway pleased
Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and the chairs of the House Agriculture subcommittees issued statements Thursday that they were unimpressed with the Trump administration’s second trade aid package, but House Agriculture Committee ranking member Michael Conaway, R-Texas, said he was pleased.
Stabenow said, “The administration continues to move ahead with no real trade strategy. These short-term, inequitable payouts are not a replacement for markets and a coherent trade strategy.”
“Today’s announcement only confirms my previous concerns that this aid is not equitable and favors certain farmers over others,” she said. “Bottom line — it’s not fair.”
The House Agriculture subcommittee chairs, all Democrats — Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Chairman Jim Costa of California; Nutrition, Oversight, and Department Operations Chair Marcia Fudge of Ohio; General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Chair Filemon Vela of Texas; and Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research Chair Stacey Plaskett of the Virgin Islands — said they are concerned about the long-term impacts of the trade war, as well as unintended consequences of payments by USDA to farmers.
In a joint statement they said, “Trade wars are not good, nor are they easy to win. While these second Market Facilitation Program payments will undoubtedly help farmers in tough economic conditions, they continue to tell us loudly and clearly they want fair access to global markets, not one-off handouts from the federal government.”
“We’re concerned about fairness and the equity of payments across crops and commodities, including specialty crops, dairy, and livestock products. We question how this program will affect our World Trade Organization commitments, especially given concerns raised by our trading partners after the first round of trade aid.
“We are alarmed that this bailout will take valuable resources away from USDA’s implementation of programs in the 2018 farm bill and the recently passed disaster supplemental that help farmers in dire need. And we’re very troubled that this second bailout comes alongside drastic cuts to nutrition programs for our most vulnerable.
“The administration needs to face the fact that its trade war isn’t accomplishing anything but added pain for our farmers.”
Conaway supported Trump’s action and called on Congress to pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement.
“For too long, China has been a bully on the world stage, using predatory trade practices — including high and rising subsidies, tariffs and non-tariff trade barriers — all at the expense of American farmers and ranchers,” Conaway said.
“Fortunately, we finally have a president who is speaking out and standing up to China and other foreign countries who refuse to play by the rules.
“The president has held firm in his commitment to defend America’s farmers and ranchers from China and other global trade cheats — understanding the toll these retaliatory tariffs have taken on family farmers and ranchers in an already depressed farm economy and offering a bridge to another year,” Conaway said.
“While President Trump continues to stand with America’s farm and ranch families, Congress must join him in passing one of rural America’s biggest priorities — USMCA. I once again call on [House] Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi [D-Calif.] to bring USMCA to a successful, bipartisan vote.”
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