Reactions to trade aid varies wildly
Reactions late Wednesday to the Trump administration’s plans to provide $12 billion in aid to American farmers through direct assistance, food purchases and trade promotion varied wildly.
Here are reactions received by The Hagstrom Report since early afternoon but not cited in other coverage:
Heritage Foundation’s Jay Van Andel trade economist Tori Whiting said, “The Trump administration’s plan to provide $12 billion in aid to farmers and ranchers is a misguided attempt to mitigate the harm caused by its tariffs at the expense of taxpayers. Bad policy doesn’t justify more bad policy, yet this is exactly what is happening. The administration’s plan to throw money at a problem that it has created will not increase the freedom to trade in America. In fact, the harm to American businesses, farmers, ranchers, and workers will only worsen as more tariffs are levied. The best way to help American farmers and ranchers is not through wasteful spending, but to ditch the administration’s harmful tariff policies and instead focus on increasing access to new markets for producers.”
National Association of State Departments of Agriculture CEO Barbara Glenn said, “As trade tensions have escalated, the needs of farmers — who are already struggling — are increasing. We look forward to working with USDA as it seeks to address the short-term challenges farmers are facing. As we move forward, long-term solutions to ensure farmers have certainty with existing markets and can access new markets are paramount. We urge the administration to swiftly conclude negotiations to modernize NAFTA, resolve negotiations with China, and complete new trade agreements.”
House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., said, “President [Donald] Trump and [Agriculture] Secretary [Sonny] Perdue took action to stand by farmers who are suffering from illegal trade retaliation. Secretary Perdue called me earlier Tuesday to discuss these measures. The actions and funding announced demonstrate that the president has not forgotten the American farmer and that agricultural producers will not bear the brunt of unjustified retaliation by foreign governments.
“As chairman of the Agriculture Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, I have worked to ensure that protective measures and funding would be available should our nation’s agriculture producers be confronted with such abusive policies enacted by foreign leaders,” Aderholt said. “Any funds spent will be temporary. This will ensure that our farmers are able to make ends meet while the Trump administration works out more fair deals for farmers, ranchers, and producers who want to sell their products overseas.
“I applaud President Trump for standing up to China and other foreign governments’ unfair trade practices,” he concluded. “If our markets here are open to their goods, then their markets should be open for American agriculture and manufacturing.”
National Pork Producers Council President Jim Heimerl, a pork producer from Johnstown, Ohio, said, “President Trump has said he has the back of U.S. farmers and today demonstrated this commitment with an aid package to sustain American agriculture cutoff from critical export markets as his administration works to realign U.S. global trade policy.
“U.S. pork, which began the year in expansion mode to capitalize on unprecedented global demand, now faces punitive tariffs on 40 percent of its exports,” Heimerl said. “The restrictions we face in critical markets such as Mexico and China – our top two export markets by volume last year – have placed American pig farmers and their families in dire financial straits. We thank the president for taking immediate action.
“While we recognize the complexities of resetting U.S. trade policy, we hope that U.S. pork will soon regain the chance to compete on a level playing field in markets around the globe,” he added. “We have established valuable international trading relationships that have helped offset the U.S. trade deficit and fueled America’s rural economy.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said, “California’s farmers want access to foreign markets, not a $12 billion taxpayer-funded bailout for President Trump’s failed trade war.
“President Trump still doesn’t get it on trade. California farmers export around $20 billion worth of agricultural goods every year, yet the president continues to attack our closest trade partners while failing to open new markets,” Feinstein said.
“Instead of providing a Band-Aid for his disastrous trade policies, President Trump could help farmers by ending his unnecessary trade war,” she added. “Throwing taxpayer money at President Trump’s problem won’t fix it.”
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., said, “With this announcement, the administration is borrowing $12 billion from taxpayers – which, given the enormous price tag, still barely compensates for the losses to farmers and ranchers as well as lost markets that will be difficult to just bring back as they took years to create. A study shows that corn, soybean and wheat farmers across the U.S. have already lost $13 billion because of the administration’s trade war. We need trade policies that make sense for North Dakota, protect farmers and ranchers, and open up markets. Today I introduced a bill to help provide some assistance to farmers at no additional cost, but the only truly long-term solution to strengthen our farm economy and save taxpayer dollars is to give up this misguided trade war. Period.”
Heitkamp earlier today introduced legislation that would make Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) available to farmers and producers whose exports are hurt by retaliatory tariffs caused by the administration’s trade policies.
National Cotton Council Chairman Ron Craft, a Plains, Texas, ginner, stated, “We support the administration for taking this interim action to help at least partially offset impacts until better trade relationships can be restored and improved. The negative effects of the retaliatory tariffs are being felt at multiple points in the U.S. cotton and cottonseed industry from the farmgate on through the distribution and marketing channels. Our industry thanks Agriculture Secretary Perdue for exercising his authority to provide this much-needed relief.”
Rep. Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif., said, “As President Trump threatens billions of dollars in more trade tariffs, the U.S. agriculture industry is caught in the crosshair. Today’s action by the U.S. Department of Agriculture is an admission that domestic farmers and ranchers are being harmed by these broad, unilateral trade enforcement actions. As the representative of the Salad Bowl of the World, from state that leads the nation in agricultural exports, I urge the administration to work to expand U.S. agricultural exports abroad, not continue to close international markets and damage industries at home.”
Panetta noted that he is one of the sponsors of a House bill that would require the president to submit to Congress any proposal to adjust imports in the interest of national security under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.
Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said, “The goal of the administration we believe is to gain greater access to markets on a fair basis for our farmers and ranchers. But because agriculture has a positive balance of trade, our producers are heavily impacted by retaliatory tariffs. That is why we are willing to work with USDA on a short-term program to provide our producers with temporary relief as the administration continues its trade negotiations. At the same time, however, we continue to press the administration to get better, more fair trade deals in place as soon as possible so that farmers can continue to do what they do best – provide our country and the world with the highest quality, lowest cost food supply in the world.”
Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, said, “While I appreciate the USDA for finally offering some relief to farmers who have been harmed by retaliatory tariffs, this effort is an acknowledgment of the costs of the Trump administration’s lack of strategy on the trade conflicts it has initiated. These kind of retaliatory tariffs should have been expected, properly considered beforehand, and prepared for. Instead, farmers have been hung out to dry for months. I’m also worried that this short-term fix won’t be enough to address the long-term impacts these farmers face.
“What’s more, there are many other industries that deserve trade relief as well,” she continued. “This includes Maine’s lobster industry, which has just been hit with an additional Chinese tariff of 25 percent. Where is relief for them and other industries that have been affected? What is the plan to restore stability for all impacted businesses, including farmers? I hope the administration answers these questions quickly, because this problem shows no sign of getting any better any time soon.”
Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said, “Bailouts, tweets, and bragging won’t save the lost crop value for our farmers and won’t protect their reputations around the world as reliable sellers. The president’s scorched-earth trade war has put a lot at stake for Illinois and our rural economy. Soybean farmers in Illinois tell me that since the start of the president’s trade war, they’ve seen their crop value drop by 20 percent. Declaring a trade war on the world, instead of the truly bad actors, leaves a lot of collateral damage.”
International Dairy Foods Association President and CEO Michael Dykes said, “As the administration advances a proactive and aggressive trade agenda, retaliatory tariffs by other countries, especially China, have impacted dairy exports. IDFA views this relief as a temporary bridge intended to alleviate some of the financial difficulties faced by the agriculture sector, including dairy, while the administration works to solidify multiple international trade deals.”
National Milk Producers Federation President and CEO Jim Mulhern said, “We appreciate the president following through on his pledge that America’s farmers won’t bear the brunt of the economic losses generated by the current trade conflicts. Today’s announcement reflects requests that our organization has made of USDA to relieve some of the financial pain dairy farmers are feeling due to lost export opportunities. The plan announced today will use USDA’s authority to help farmers through a combination of direct payments to farmers, milk product purchases for distribution to feeding programs, and additional export development assistance.”
NMPF is also encouraging the administration to conclude the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations and pursue new trade opportunities, “which is the long-term solution to the current situation. We need this assistance for now, but we also need new trade deals that allow our farmers to reach customers in other nations.”
Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen said, “We appreciate the administration’s actions to help farmers who are indeed suffering as a result of recent trade disputes. Farmers are the backbone of this country who provide feed, food and fuel to consumers across our nation.
“We hope as the administration explores trade mitigation options, they will also recognize the benefit of providing RVP relief. The ethanol industry is an important value-added market for corn growers and with another record crop on the horizon, any chance to create additional market opportunities will help,” he added. “Market opportunities such as year-round access to 15 percent ethanol (E15) would be a step in the right direction. This would increase demand for higher level ethanol blends, stimulating more growth in rural America, and helping to counteract the prohibitive tariff and non-tariff trade barriers that China and other countries have placed on American agricultural products.”
U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) said they “are glad that the administration recognizes farming as a risky business and acknowledges that farmers need help to manage the additional risk from its trade policies. However, our concerns still lie in a lengthy trade war that will cause long-term, irreparable harm to U.S. agriculture. We urge the administration to recognize this self-inflicted damage and to end the trade war immediately as well as to work within the rules-based trading system in partnership with like-minded countries to address serious problems in the global economy.
“While tariffs aren’t the answer, the wheat industry greatly appreciates the administration’s efforts to push back on China’s unfair trade practices through dispute settlement cases at the World Trade Organization. The policies being challenged hurt U.S. farmers and have undermined trust in the rules-based trading system. President Trump understands that the farm economy is struggling and is working to improve the livelihoods of growers across the country through these efforts.
“Agriculture needs strong trading partners, so we also encourage the administration to rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership and finalize NAFTA negotiations so that the U.S. Trade Representative can focus on new trading partners that will be as important as ever. These actions will have lasting benefits to wheat growers across the country.”