U.S. farmers worry about U.S.-China trade dispute

Updated 2018-04-27 10:39:06 Xinhua

The tariffs race between the United States and China after Washington March hiked steel and aluminum tariffs will "end up hurting the bottom lines of farmers in states across the country," the Farmers for Free Trade warned on Thursday.

The Farmers for Free Trade is a bipartisan group co-chaired by former U.S. Senator Max Baucus and Richard Lugar and supported by National Association of Wheat Growers, National Corn Growers Association, National Pork Producers Council, American Farm Bureau Federation and other leading agriculture organizations.

The Farmers for Free Trade issued a report "Farmers pay the price: steel & aluminum retaliation" Thursday near Sacramento, capital of California, which is a part of the ongoing effort by the group to illustrate the negative impacts tariffs on American agriculture and amplify the voices of the many farmers who will be hurt by them.

Many states will be hard-hit by the roughly 500 million U.S. dollars in Chinese tariffs imposed on American agricultural goods including almonds, walnuts, pistachios, grapes, oranges, apples, cherries, wine, ginseng and pork, which was announced on April 2 in response to new U.S. duties on imported steel and aluminum, the report said.

Some of the top states impacted by the retaliatory tariffs from the Section 232 trade action on steel and aluminum imposed by Trump administration showed in the report includes California, Iowa, Washington, Missouri, and North Carolina. In 2017, whole agriculture industry exports to China was 2.6 billion U.S. dollars.

Pistachios could see 99 million U.S. dollars in potential additional duties, while almonds and wine could face up to 28 million U.S. dollars and 29 million U.S. dollars in additional Chinese duties, the report said, pistachio, almond and wine producers sent 660 million, 184 million and 196 million U.S. dollars respectively in exports to China last year.

Other commodities cited in the report include cherries (28 million U.S. dollars in potential additional duties, oranges (15 million U.S. dollars), grapes (12 million U.S. dollars), apples (8 million U.S. dollars), ginseng (7 million U.S. dollars), and walnuts (4 million U.S. dollars).

Moreover, the report said a big share of duties, about 270 million U.S. dollars, could be hoisted on the pork industry, concentrating in state of Iowa, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina and Minnesota, sent 1.1 billion U.S. dollars in exports to China in 2017.

The report concluded that in a trade dispute " American farmers are the first casualty" and the tariffs described "are a tax on American farmers."

The trade dispute "increase the cost of exporting, depress the prices of farm futures, and end up hurting the bottom lines of farmers in states across the country. They also incentivize trading partners like China to look to other markets for their imports that means that trading relationships that took decades to develop can evaporate overnight," the group said in a press release Thursday.

"And as many farmers and trade experts know, once you lose an export market it doesn't come back immediately, in fact, it often takes many years for trading relationships to recover."

"In addition to retaliatory tariffs, the steel and aluminum tariffs we are imposing on other countries will also hurt many in the food and agriculture sector who rely on aluminum (beer) and steel cans (fruits and vegetables)." the group said, adding "With farm incomes already declining for many of these producers, these new tariffs are a drag on many farmers' ability to make ends meet."

The group also warned the possibility of more expansive tariffs in response to an estimated 50 billion U.S. dollars in tariffs the Trump administration plans to tack on to Chinese imports, saying "the retaliation from these two actions could be a one-two punch that substantially weakens the competitiveness of American agriculture."

The group said that since there is still time for these tariffs to be rolled back and for additional tariffs on American agriculture exports to be avoided, it will work every day to reach these goals.

California Secretary of Food and Agriculture Karen Ross and California Farm Bureau Federation President Jamie Johansson attended Thursday's media event.

It is not the first time for American agriculture industry or farmers non-government organization cried out the trade disputes between the U.S. and China ignited by the Trump administration.

Early this month, the Washington-based American Farm Bureau Federation, found in 1911 and describes itself as the largest general farm organization in the country, issued a statement, saying it is time to stop the tariff race.

"Growing trade disputes have placed farmers and ranchers in a precarious position. We have bills to pay and debts we must settle, and cannot afford to lose any market, much less one as important as China's. We urge the United States and China to return to negotiations and produce an agreement that serves the interests of the world's two largest economies." Zippy Durall, president of the group said in the statement.

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