Ag concerned about tariffs

IFB president encourages members to visit with their legislators while they are home for congressional break the next two weeks.

Ag _concerned _tariffs _1_636574172189424803

China's Commerce Ministry announced plans to impose a 25 percent tariff on imports of U.S. pork. It also announced a smaller duty on other U.S. ag products. (Illinois Farm Bureau file photo)

By Deana Stroisch

China announced plans last week to place tariffs on $3 billion worth of imports, including pork, from the United States.

The action came soon after President Donald Trump moved to impose about $50 billion worth of tariffs on Chinese imports.

“The administration’s tariffs against China make farmers very nervous,” said Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert Jr. “Pork is at the top of the list for retaliation from China. This is a pocketbook issue. Hog farmers lost $14.49 a head this week based on trade concerns. Soybeans are down 54 cents since the steel and aluminum tariffs were announced on March 3.”

Guebert encouraged members to visit with their legislators while they are home for congressional break the next two weeks.

“Agriculture has a positive trade balance of $21 billion,” he said. “It is a bright spot in our nation’s overall balance of trade. We must do all we can to halt the spread of this trade war.” 

Related: Congress OKs $1.3 trillion spending package. Read more here.

Last week, Trump directed United States Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer to publish a proposed list of products and any tariff increases within 15 days. After taking public comment, a final list of products and tariffs would be announced. Trump also directed Lighthizer to pursue dispute settlement through the World Trade Organization “to address China’s discriminatory technology licensing practices,” according to USTR.

“President Trump has made it clear we must insist on fair and reciprocal trade with China and strictly enforce our laws against unfair trade. This requires taking effective action to confront China over its state-led efforts to force, strong-arm and even steal U.S. technology and intellectual property,” Lighthizer said. “Years of talking about these problems with China has not worked.”

In response, China's Commerce Ministry announced plans to impose a 25 percent tariff on U.S. pork imports and recycled aluminum and a 15 percent tariff on American steel pipes, fruit and wine.

“If the trade situation continues to deteriorate, our lives as farmers and ranchers will become more difficult,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall. “Our farmers and ranchers depend on trade for a living, and we are very concerned about retaliation resulting from the tariffs announced yesterday. China is an important market for U.S. pork. With about a billion dollars’ worth of pork going to China and Hong Kong, it’s our second-biggest market. This will really hurt U.S. pork producers.”

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