Peterson: New Farm Bill Must Protect Against Trade Retaliation

House Ag Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson says that American tariffs on steel and aluminum imports will generate retaliation that will hit farm exports hard. As a result, he’ll be working with House and Senate Ag Committee leaders on a new farm bill to protect farmers from “the market fluctuations caused by these actions.” A USDA spokesman says President Trump “will not allow American agriculture to bear the brunt of retaliatory tactics.” However, in an email to the Hagstrom Report, Peterson says, “That the administration has decided to move forward with these wrongheaded tariffs, even though farmers have repeatedly warned about retaliation from trade partners, shows that the administration isn’t listening or just doesn’t care.”

Instead of a farm bill focused on welfare reform, Peterson says he looks forward to working with leadership to craft a bill that protects farmers from the market fluctuations caused by these tariffs. The legislation should also invest in trade promotion to help them rebuild lost markets. The USDA spokesman says the agency is continuing to work to expand existing markets and to come up with new ones for American agricultural products.

Many ag groups are expressing their concern over the tariffs, including the National Pork Producers Council. Those concerns arise as Mexico, a key pork export market, has already threatened to retaliate against pork imports. U.S. pork shipped $1.5 billion worth of product to Mexico, and another $792 million to Canada, its fourth-largest market. U.S. Meat Export Federation President and CEO Dan Halstrom says it’s unfortunate if U.S. pork exports to Mexico, which deliver tremendous benefits to both the U.S. supply chain and Mexican consumers, importers, and restaurants, no longer enjoy duty-free access to this critical market. “It’s especially frustrating to see U.S. pork caught up in a trade dispute that has absolutely nothing to do with the pork trade,” Halstrom says.

The National Farmers Union says, while they agree with President Trump’s inclination to address unfair trading practices and reduce our trade deficit, provoking a global trade war with our closest allies hardly seems like a solution. NFU President Roger Johnson says, “These on-again, off-again tariffs will likely result in the opposite of their intended effect. Agriculture is always the first casualty in retaliatory tariffs.”

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