President Trump is a maverick when it comes to international relations, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Wednesday while assuring farm-state senators that successful negotiations would resolve the threat of a trade war.
China threatened to put 25 percent tariffs on U.S. farm exports "because they think it hits me," President Trump said on Monday, but "we'll make it up to them (farmers) and in the end they're going to be much stronger than they are now." Deputy Agriculture Secretary Steve Censky, at a separate appearance, said the USDA was considering options that include purchase of surplus commodities to prop up prices.
Nearly twice as many producers believe there is a risk of a trade war that will significantly damage farm exports as say that risk is low, according to a Purdue University poll of farmers and ranchers.
Farmers are worried about foreign retaliation to U.S. trade sanctions, said the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, suggesting that Congress may have to create a “special payment due to retaliation.”
A growing number of farmers and rural advocates say President Trump's trade and rural infrastructure proposals would further damage the struggling farm economy, despite his vow to boost rural America through renewed investment.
The farm sector is “rightfully concerned” that President Trump’s plan for steep tariffs on imported steel and aluminum could trigger retaliatory tariffs on U.S. ag exports, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. Exports account for 20 percent of U.S. farm income.
There is tremendous uncertainty in farm country about the future of NAFTA, with one-third of producers responding to a Purdue survey saying they believe it is likely the United States will withdraw from the free trade agreement.
With the seventh round of NAFTA negotiations underway, the Mexican National Federation of Corn Farmers said the redrawn pact should limit corn imports into the country, reported Xinhua, the Chinese news agency.
The contest between corn, the longtime leader, and soybeans to be the most widely planted U.S. crop may be closer than initially thought, said USDA chief economist Robert Johansson, speaking at the agency’s annual Ag Outlook Forum.
Days before negotiations for the new NAFTA are due to resume, Mexico launched an interactive website, NAFTA Works, "to further circulate the perceivable benefits of the North American Free Trade Agreement." Mexico is the third-largest market for U.S. food and ag exports and is the largest source of agricultural imports.