USDA cherry-picks comments as farm groups advertise against tariffs |

USDA cherry-picks comments as farm groups advertise against tariffs

The Agriculture Department today sent out a news release with selected comments from farm groups thanking President Donald Trump for the $12 billion in aid to farmers hurt by tariffs, but leaving out sections in which the farm groups urged Trump to end the trade war or provide additional aid.

USDA cites this quote from American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall: “The $12 billion package of agricultural assistance announced today by the administration will provide a welcome measure of temporary relief to our farmers and ranchers who are experiencing the financial effects of the trade war … We are grateful for the administration’s recognition that farmers and ranchers needed positive news now and this will buy us some time.”

But Duvall also said, “This announcement is substantial, but we cannot overstate the dire consequences that farmers and ranchers are facing in relation to lost export markets. Our emphasis continues to be on trade and restoring markets, and we will continue to push for a swift and sure end to the trade war and the tariffs impacting American agriculture.”

The USDA release came out the same day that Farmers for Free Trade began a multimillion advertising campaign criticizing the Trump administration’s trade policies. Some of the group’s support comes from the same farm groups that USDA cited in its release.

“We’ve received funding from multiple associations including the American Farm Bureau and state farm bureaus, National Pork Producers Council, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Corn Growers Association, and U.S. Grains Council as well as many individual U.S. farmers, ranchers, and ag businesses,” a spokesman for Farmers for Free Trade told The Hagstrom Report today.

Farmers for Free Trade’s first advertisement was released today, and will run on Fox News, CNBC, and CNN, as well as in Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, before running in additional states, the group said. The 30-second spot, entitled “Rounding Error,” includes comments made last Thursday on CNBC by White House Director of Trade Policy Peter Navarro, who said that “the amount of trade that we’re effecting with the tariffs is a rounding error.”

The ad contrasts Navarro’s statement, which The Wall Street Journal editorial board recently called “out of touch,” with headlines from across the country of farmers, factory, workers, consumers and rural communities who are feeling the pain of the tariff increases.

“The ad implores the president to end the trade war,” the group noted.

Farmers for Free Trade said that addition to paid television, radio, digital, and print advertising, its “Tariffs Hurt the Heartland” campaign will also continue its rapid-response media operation, host town hall meetings, create an interactive map to display the impacts of tariffs by state and congressional district, and “drive the conversation about tariff impacts on social media.”

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