Friday, March 09, 2018

As Trump imposes tariffs, concern about trade war rises; Perdue acknowledges 'legitimate anxiety' among farmers

Some in the agriculture industry panned President Trump's tariffs on steel and aluminum, which he enacted yesterday. He exempted Canada and Mexico, but said that may change depending on negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Concern about the tariffs sparking a trade war are widespread among farmers, especially since China is pointedly investigating U.S. sorghum imports and will likely target soybeans next. American Soybean Association President John Heisdorffer, an Iowa farmer, said the tariffs were a "disastrous course of action," and "We have heard directly from the Chinese that U.S. soybeans are prime targets for retaliation." China is the top customer for U.S. soybean exports, buying $5 billion in 2017, which accounts for more than 60 percent of last year's sales, Ben Potter reports for Ag Web.

Farm-equipment manufacturers are also worried. The Association of Equipment Manufacturers said in a statement that the industry is "profoundly disappointed" in the tariffs because they put "manufacturers at a competitive disadvantage, risk undoing the strides our economy has made due to tax reform, and ultimately pose a threat to American workers' jobs." The statement also noted that steel accounts for about 10 percent of equipment manufacturers' direct costs.

At a recent meeting at Department of Agriculture headquarters, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said the ag industry is "rightfully concerned" and that "there is probably some legitimate anxiety over the trade issues," Natalina Sents reports for Successful Farming.

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