LINCOLN, NEB. – State Farm Bureau presidents from across the Midwest have joined together to urge U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to work with President Trump to end the escalation of trade disputes with China that have and continue to threaten market opportunities for agricultural commodities and products.
In a May 15 letter to Secretary Perdue, presidents of the Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin Farm Bureaus responded to President Trump’s call for the Secretary to develop a plan to provide monetary compensation to farmers and ranchers who may be hurt by retaliatory measures China may take in response to proposed U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods.
“Farmers and ranchers know growing our customer base outside our borders is critical to our economic survival. The development of international trade rules and passage of free trade agreements, while never perfect, have helped the United States and the Midwest in particular,” said Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson. “Agriculture trade between China and our Midwestern states amounted to just under $4.5 billion in 2017 alone.”
In the letter, the presidents made it clear that farmers and ranchers want access to markets, not checks from the federal government in lieu of trade opportunities.
“Farmers and ranchers have invested heavily in checkoff programs, trade missions, and other activities to grow International markets. While we appreciate the sentiment behind President Trump’s request, this action will negate the work of our organizations to reduce the need for taxpayer assistance for agriculture,” said Nelson. “President Trump and Secretary Perdue have done great things for rural America, but we cannot afford to risk the gains we’ve made in market access by making farm and ranch families casualties of ongoing trade disputes with China.”
Background: U.S. / China Trade Dispute
President Trump announced on March 23, 2018, the U.S. would begin the process to impose tariffs on Chinese exports due to concerns over Chinese practices that impact U.S. intellectual property. On April 3, 2018, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) released a list of $50 billion of Chinese electronics, machinery, and aerospace products for a recommended 25 percent import tariff. In response to the U.S. recommendation of tariffs, China released a list of products for a potential 25 percent retaliatory tariff. The targeted products include soybeans, cotton, beef, corn, wheat, sorghum, tobacco, orange juice, cranberries, among other items. China’s potential tariffs will not go into effect until the U.S. proposed tariffs go into effect.
Key Nebraska / China Trade Statistics
- China was the 3rd largest buyer of Nebraska agriculture exports behind Mexico and Japan in 2017.
- Nebraska agricultural trade with China was worth more than $396 million in 2017.
- Nebraska’s export relationship with China amounted in value to $2.29 per bushel of soybeans, $26.36 per head of beef, and $3.82 per head of pork in 2017.
- The average export value to China per Nebraska farm/ranch was roughly $16,600 in 2017.