US farmers raise alerts as trade war with China heats up

Global Business

US farmers raise alerts as trade war with China heats up

The U.S. Trade Representative’s office has reaffirmed President Donald Trump’s plans to impose an additional 5% tariff on a list of $300 billion of Chinese imports, with some starting September 1st.

The administration had previously planned to impose a 10% tariff but decided to raise that amount in response to China’s retaliatory tariffs on $75 billion worth of U.S. goods. 

CGTN’s Dan Williams reports from Illinois, where many farmers who are attending a farm show, say they’re deeply concerned.   

The U.S. agricultural industry has faced a fair bit of turbulence in recent years, and prospects for the future look far from stable. 

The Farm Progress Show is the largest outdoor farm event in the United States. But weighing heavy on the shoulders of manufacturers and farmers is the trade dispute between the United States and China.

With a further hike in tariffs and retaliatory tariffs from both sides on the way, stress is only building.  There were few signs of a breakthrough at an agricultural policy forum, that included U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, who spoke about emergency aid funding for farmers.

“Farmers are at the point of the spear. They are more productive. They have an export surplus and the President understands that. That is why he has authorized us to use the CCC dollars to fill in the gaps until we can get China to come to the table to resolve the trade issues that have been there for years,” said Perdue.

For some farmers attending the event, there appeared to be a frustration with the apparent lack of progress. 

“As you saw over the weekend with the 5% increase in tariffs on soybeans, that doesn’t move our pile, that doesn’t get our deal done. And to hear the secretary say that there is not really any real news coming out, was a little disappointing,” said Bill Gordon from the American Soybean Association.

Total American agricultural exports to China dropped from $24 billion in 2014 to $9.1 billion last year, according to the American Farm Bureau. 

A further fall appears likely with exports down $1.3 billion during the first half of 2019. 

“There is a frustration level right now that I am detecting that I have not experienced before in 20 years working for farmers,” said Adam Nielsen from the Illinois Farm Bureau, “You are going to have to make long term plans based on the fact that you have lost this enormous market. And that is not a happy thought right now.” 

The Farm Progress Show demonstrates the very latest technology available in U.S. farming. Visitors can view enormous combines and even pose with Nascar drivers.

But it would appear that this is an industry very much concerned about its future direction.