Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue acknowledged in an interview earlier this week that farmers are “casualties” in President Trump’s trade war with China.
Perdue told CNN he didn’t think a trade deal was likely this weekend when Trump and Chinese President Xi meet in Japan. He’s now hoping a deal can be reached by the end of this year. The administration has set aside aid money for farmers, who make up a key group of voters that pushed Trump over the top in the last presidential election.
However, they’ve been among the hardest-hit groups in the country by this trade dispute with China, once a top market for U.S. soybeans. “I think they are one of the casualties in the trade war, yes,” Perdue says. “We knew going in that when you throw a penalty flag on China, any retaliation would come right at the American farmer.” Perdue tells CNN that he’s told the president “you can’t pay the bills with patriotism,” adding that the president understands that.
That why Trump is trying to supplement the damage they’re facing from the trade disruption with market facilitation payments. The trade dispute escalated earlier this month after Washington and Beijing raised tariffs on each other’s goods. It’s left U.S. farmers sitting on record volumes of soybeans as China halted purchases.