Beginning on Jan. 1, Japan will lower or eliminate tariffs on $7.2 billion worth of U.S. farm exports under a “mini” trade pact that received final approval in Japan’s parliament on Wednesday.
Brazil and Argentina are taking actions that are "not good for our farmers," said President Trump on Monday, announcing high tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from the South American nations. Trump, who announced the tariffs on social media, said the weakening Brazilian real and Argentina peso adversely affects U.S. manufacturing and agricultural exports, making American-made goods more expensive.
Fueled by $14.5 billion in Trump tariff payments, U.S. net farm income will climb to its highest total since the commodity boom crested in 2013 and a dramatic rebound from the plunge that accompanied its collapse, the USDA estimated. When crop insurance indemnities are added to "direct farm program payments," a category that includes trade war aid, land stewardship payments and traditional crop supports, the government will provide an unusually high 31 percent of farm income this year.
As lawmakers become more vocal in criticizing Trump tariff payments, U.S. farm groups increasingly are quiet on trade issues. The reasons range from weariness to uncertainty over what's to come, whether it's the Sino-U.S. trade war, congressional approval of the USMCA with Canada and Mexico, or implementation of new ag trade rules with Japan, say analysts and farm group officials.
With the Sino-U.S. trade war unresolved, the Trump administration released $3.625 billion in trade-war payments to farmers and ranchers on Friday to offset losses on 2019 production. Payments will begin this week and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said they "will give farmers, who have had a tough year due to unfair trade retaliation and natural disasters, much needed funds in time for Thanksgiving.”
Low commodity prices and high costs are tightening the credit squeeze on the farm sector, with little expectation of improvement in the near term, according to ag bankers in the Midwest and Plains. Some farmers and ranchers will liquidate assets during the winter to stay afloat, and some highly leveraged operators will be forced out of business, they said.
Farmers can expect a cash injection of billions of dollars in Trump tariff payments later this month or in December, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Thursday. “We hope that trade will supplant the need for aid in 2020,” he said, pointing to progress in negotiations to resolve the Sino-U.S. trade war.
The House Democratic task force on the so-called new NAFTA “has made substantial progress” with U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer on modifications to the tri-national agreement, said a statement from the Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday.
The “phase one” agreement that calls for China to purchase vast amounts of U.S. farm exports should be ready for signature by mid-November, regardless of the cancellation of the summit meeting where President Trump and President Xi Jinping were expected to sign it, said the White House on Wednesday.