Heitkamp, Bustos plan bill to use tariff income for farm trade
Two democrats — Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and Rep. Cherri Bustos, D-Ill. — plan to introduce legislation to use tariff income for trade promotion programs that help U.S. farmers and ranchers, including the Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development.
The income apparently would come from the steel and aluminum tariffs that President Donald Trump imposed this year.
In a joint news release, Heitkamp and Bustos said “the government has already collected over $3.5 billion from tariffs, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection,” while foreign countries have retaliated with tariffs on U.S .farm products that make it harder to sell U.S. products overseas.
“The trade war is causing real pain for North Dakota farmers and ranchers, which is why I’ve been working on commonsense actions to open markets and support producers,” Heitkamp said.
“Our new bill is another needed step to help those being harmed with the funds being brought in from the tariffs.
“We can’t just sit by and watch orders get cancelled and markets disappear, so I’m doing everything I can to speak out against this trade war and to help relieve some of the pain it is causing.
“What North Dakota producers ultimately want is markets, so this bill specifically aims to boost exports and help them find new buyers for the goods they work hard to produce. We need smart trade policies that support hard working North Dakotans and strengthen our rural economy. Period.”
Bustos said, “As markets shrink and commodity prices continue to plummet, hardworking farmers across the heartland are facing the very real consequences of this reckless trade war.”
“I am proud to introduce legislation with Sen. Heitkamp to stop the bleeding and invest the revenue from these damaging trade tariffs into growing our rural economy,” Bustos said.
“USDA’s Market Access Programs and Foreign Market Development Programs have been proven to generate more than $30 in economic activity for every dollar invested. Our farmers feed not only our country, but the world, and we’re committed to helping them grow their business.”
The legislation would direct Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to direct funds collected by the treasury from tariffs on imported goods toward the trade promotion programs, Heitkamp and Bustos said.