GOP chairman: Trump tariffs are 'terribly counterproductive'

GOP chairman: Trump tariffs are 'terribly counterproductive'
© Victoria Sarno Jordan

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsRural America hopes Trump hasn't forgotten his promise Republicans slam Trump's tariffs plan Senate Republicans float legislation to reverse Trump tariffs MORE (R-Kan.) on Thursday blasted President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse expected to vote on omnibus Thursday afternoon House passes 'right to try' drug bill Spending bill rejects Trump’s proposed EPA cut MORE’s move to place new tariffs on foreign-made steel and aluminum as “terribly counterproductive” and warned of retaliation from trading partners.

Roberts has pressed Trump and senior administration officials in recent months to be careful in renegotiating trade arrangements so as not to invite retaliatory tariffs against U.S. agricultural exports.

“Every time you do this, you get a retaliation, and agriculture is the number one target. I think this is terribly counterproductive for the ag economy,” Roberts said. 

Asked why Trump hasn’t appeared to heed the concerns of GOP senators from farm states, Roberts responded: “Good question.” 

The president announced Thursday that he plans to put a 25 percent tariff on foreign-made steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum. 

Soybean futures plunged earlier this year after Trump announced tariffs on imported washing machines and solar panels after China, a major exporter of those goods, objected to the move.

China filed a World Trade Ogarnization protest against what it alleged was sorghum dumping in its markets. It also launched an investigation into sorghum exports from the United States.

“We’ve already done this on washing machines and solar panels and then the sourgum producers — one of the rare crops where we were making a profit — got targeted by China,” Roberts said.

Sorghum is a cereal crop that Chinese meat producers use as a cheap alternative to corn for feeding livestock.