USDA announces 3-prong approach to aid farmers

Virginia Carson
July 25, 2018

Top European Union officials were going into a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday warning they are ready to put tariffs on $20 billion of American goods if he puts duties on vehicle imports. Farmer organizations including the American Soybean Association have called the impacts of tariffs on agriculture "devastating".

Perdue said the plan was a short-term solution to the "illegal" response by China, Canada, Mexico, the European Union and other major economies to aggressive USA trade sanctions.

Earlier this month, 25 percent tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese imports of machinery and electronics went into effect, prompting Beijing to respond with tit-for-tat tariffs on American exports of soybeans and other products. Those affected economies have in turn targeted US agricultural products, including soybeans, dairy, meat, produce and liquor.

The plan comes as Trump speaks at the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention in Kansas City in the heart of the nation's farm country.

"When countries decide to take an approach where they are going to continually match and escalate and increase taxes against each other, as a way to address national policy, ultimately nobody wins", says Rep. David Steffen, (R) Howard.

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Many lawmakers would prefer Trump lift the tariffs, rather than provide bailouts. "This means finishing the NAFTA negotiations (with Canada and Mexico) as soon as possible so we can begin talks on new bilateral agreements with other key soybean markets, including Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines".

He wrote, "Are we just going to continue and let our farmers and country get ripped off?" "Just be a little patient". He wrote on Twitter, "Both the US and the European Union drop all Tariffs, Barriers and Subsidies!" But many warn he is bulldozing down the very foundations of the US automotive sector that have helped the industry thrive - and add hundreds of thousands of jobs - in recent years. Across the Midwest, economists at Purdue University estimate farmers' losses will exceed $3 billion.

The biggest exporter of USA -made cars is a German company - BMW, through its plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

As recent as Wednesday morning, Mr. Trump slammed leadership in his own country, calling out "weak politicians" who are pleading with the administration to end existing tariffs on US allies out of concern for their constituents.

Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson said the unexpected move to manipulate trade through targeted subsidies 'is becoming more and more like a Soviet-type of economy'. Commissars deciding who should be granted waivers.

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"They have a positive attitude going into this". "The question is: Will that be strong enough to offset the idea that we have to get tough on our trading partners, and that our jobs are being stolen overseas?"

"So just in that market alone I think the United States is very exposed".

Nebraska Republican Sen. Ben Sasse, a frequent Trump critic, said the president's "trade war" is "cutting the legs out from under farmers and the White House's 'plan" is to spend $12 billion on gold crutches'.

The administration on Tuesday unveiled the largest emergency farm aid package since 1998, dipping into a Great Depression-era program that will pay up to $12 billion starting in September to help US farmers weather losses. But the taxes also exact a toll on USA businesses and consumers, which pay more for imported products.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said the funding may need to be approved by Congress and the aid would be temporary.

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According to Politico, Juncker has two particular proposals: a "plurilateral" deal also involving Japan and South Korea, that would see the world's major auto manufacturers trade without tariffs; and a "limited free trade agreement between the United States and the European Union focused only on industrial tariffs".

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