U.S. farm groups miffed at tariffs on Chinese goods

American farm groups are condemning President Donald Trump’s decision to throw gasoline on a trade firestorm with China.

Trump surprised many trade analysts this morning when he said United States would move forward with 25 percent tariffs on US$50 billion worth of Chinese goods.

The White House proposed the tariffs earlier this spring but Friday’s move formalizes the decision. The tariffs, on more than a 1,000 categories of Chinese goods, are expected to take effect July 6.

Soybean growers quickly responded to the announcement, saying they could be disastrous for U.S. farmers, as China will likely hit the U.S. with retaliatory tariffs on soybeans and other agricultural commodities.

“This decision not only inflames trade tensions between the two countries, but also means U.S. soybean growers, who shipped roughly $14 billion in soybeans last year to China, their number one export market, stand to quickly feel the impact of retaliatory tariffs,” the American Soybean Association said in a written statement.

Davie Stephens, a soybean grower from Kentucky, said China takes about 60 percent of all U.S. soybean exports.

“This is a vital and robust market that soy growers have spent over 40 years building and, frankly, it’s not a market U.S. soybean farmers can afford to lose.”

The U.S. Grains Council also commented on the tariffs but their criticism was more muted. The organization said they are concerned about retaliatory tariffs from China and also expressed confidence in Trump.

“We trust the leaders at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the White House know how critical open markets are to our industry and appreciate their support during this process and in this tense time.”

Other farm groups were less charitable.

Farmers for Free Trade, a lobby group, said there will be political consequences for Trump in rural America.

“The imposition of these (Chinese) tariffs is not only a blow to our farmers, it’s a win for our competitors. When American soybeans and corn become more expensive, South America wins. When beef becomes more expensive, Australia wins. As this trade war drags on, farmers will rightly question why our competitors are winning while we’re losing,” said Brian Kuehl, Farmers for Free Trade executive director.

“Farmers for Free Trade will continue to hold town hall meetings across the country this summer to ensure farmer’s voices are being heard. The message will be loud and clear: American farmers demand that elected officials support them by ending this trade war.”

Contact robert.arnason@producer.com

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