President Trump led a 37-minute celebration of the new NAFTA on Wednesday, signing the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement on the White House lawn during a ceremony packed with laudatory descriptions of the “very, very special” tri-national free trade agreement.
A day after President Trump scoffed at wheat exports to Japan — “They don’t even want our wheat,” he said — U.S. wheat growers called out the president for maligning an important trade relationship. It was one of the first times farmers have talked back to Trump since they helped elect him to office.
The largest U.S. farm group urged trade negotiators “to write the next chapter” in Sino-U.S. relations this week by eliminating trade war tariffs that are depressing ag exports, an important part of farm income. On Monday, the USDA reported an uptick in soybean exports to China, but there was no sign of large “goodwill” purchases on the eve of negotiations in Shanghai.
The USDA has never approved cultivation of genetically engineered wheat, yet for the fourth time since April 2013 a wheat strain resistant to the weedkiller glyphosate was found growing wild in the northwestern United States. The discovery could disrupt wheat exports and it raises questions about USDA's ability to police agricultural biotechnology.
The WTO ruled in favor of the United States in its complaint that China had rigged its tariff system to constrict entry of foreign-grown grain. The ruling was the second U.S. victory in seven weeks against trade-distorting Chinese agricultural practices.
The Trump administration, with the weight of a WTO ruling behind it, called on China on Thursday to eliminate trade-distorting wheat and rice subsidies that cost U.S. farmers hundreds of millions of dollars a year in export sales. The WTO panel report may provide impetus to negotiations to resolve the Sino-U.S. trade war.
President Trump veered between predicting easy approval of the new Canada-Mexico-U.S. trade agreement and expressing concerns about opposition to the pact on Monday while declaring that the agreement “is a very, very big deal for our farmers.”
Due to bad weather, Russia's wheat crop will be one-fifth smaller than last year. But Russia will remain the No. 1 wheat exporter in the world while the EU pushes the United States into third place, according to a USDA forecast released Tuesday. In its monthly WASDE report, the USDA said farm-gate prices for this year's U.S. corn, wheat and soybean crops would be the highest since the commodity slump began early this decade.
Groups representing U.S. wheat and soybean growers said the steel and aluminum tariffs announced by President Trump might lead to retaliatory steps by China, the No. 1 buyer of American farm exports.