Trump tells USDA chief farmers won’t be hurt by China trade dispute

Trump tells USDA chief farmers won’t be hurt by China trade dispute
© Greg Nash

Agriculture Secretary Sonny PerdueGeorge (Sonny) Ervin PerdueOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senior Interior official contacted former employer, violating ethics pledge: watchdog | Ag secretary orders environmental rollbacks for Forest Service | Senate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Ag secretary orders environmental rollbacks for Forest Service Justice Department investigating meat price increases: report MORE said on Wednesday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpDeSantis on Florida schools reopening: 'If you can do Walmart,' then 'we absolutely can do schools' NYT editorial board calls for the reopening of schools with help from federal government's 'checkbook' Mueller pens WaPo op-ed: Roger Stone 'remains a convicted felon, and rightly so' MORE told him farmers will not be hurt by an ongoing trade dispute with China.

Speaking at a town hall discussion in Ohio, Perdue said that the recently announced Chinese tariffs on $50 billion worth of U.S. products could be concerning to farmers but noted that the president said they shouldn’t worry.

"I talked to the president as recently as last night," Perdue said. "And he said, 'Sonny, you can assure your farmers out there that we're not going to allow them to be the casualties if this trade dispute escalates. We're going to take care of our American farmers. You can tell them that directly.'"

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The new tariffs target a number of U.S. goods, including whiskey and soybeans.

China’s latest tariffs come after Trump announced $50 billion worth of tariffs on Chinese goods in an attempt to make them reconsider how they handle intellectual property.

Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyTrump administration to impose tariffs on French products in response to digital tax Big Ten moves to conference-only model for all fall sports Republicans considering an outdoor stadium for Florida convention: report MORE (R-Iowa) warned that Chinese tariffs could greatly hurt farmers.

"The United States should take action to defend its interests when any foreign nation isn’t playing by the rules or refuses to police itself. But farmers and ranchers shouldn’t be expected to bear the brunt of retaliation for the entire country," Grassley said in a statement.

Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinGOP senators voice confidence over uphill Senate battle Finger-pointing, gridlock spark frustration in Senate Hillicon Valley: Facebook takes down 'boogaloo' network after pressure | Election security measure pulled from Senate bill | FCC officially designating Huawei, ZTE as threats MORE (D-Ill.) said that Illinois farmers — the largest producer of soybeans — will be heavily hurt by China’s retaliation to Trump’s tariffs.

"Illinois’ farmers now join DACA recipients as the latest victims of President Trump’s temper," Durbin said in a tweet. "Illinois is our nation's’ largest producer of soybeans, and a top producer of pork, and will feel China’s retaliation to threats of a trade war more than most. America cannot move forward in a blizzard of tweets and wild threats form this president."

China’s tariffs have renewed fears of an escalating trade dispute between the U.S. and China, though Trump on Wednesday said the U.S. is not in a trade war with China.