South Carolina agriculture commissioner warns Trump tariffs add to hurricane costs

South Carolina’s agriculture commissioner expects President TrumpDonald TrumpProsecutors focus Trump Organization probe on company's financial officer: report WHO official says it's 'premature' to think pandemic will be over by end of year Romney released from hospital after fall over the weekend MORE’s ongoing trade war will make recovering from Hurricane Florence more expensive.

Hugh Weathers, a fourth-generation farmer, told Yahoo Finance on Thursday that Trump’s tariffs have impacted their market by an estimated $70 million.

“Do we add the loss that may come from the hurricane on top of that? Really, they’ll kind of coincide,” Weathers said.


Hurricane Florence made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, N.C., shortly after 7 a.m. on Friday as a Category 1 storm.

The storm is expected to bring historic rain and severe flooding to the Carolinas.

Weathers told Yahoo Finance that farmers and their harvest seasons will be impacted by the rain.

“When there is the rainfall that we’re expecting that impacts [getting into the fields], then harvest just is delayed … whether it’s cotton, or whether it’s peanuts or soybeans,” he said.

Weathers said farmers are used to the uncertain industry but Trump’s tariffs have weakened their market at an already vulnerable time.

“U.S. farm net income in the last three years has decreased to an amount that was half of what it was in 2013,” Weathers said. “So the cycle that agriculture’s going through has only been exacerbated."

“This down cycle is only made worse by these tariff discussions,” he added.

The Trump administration said late last month that it will disperse around $6 billion in aid to farmers, including about $4.7 billion to producers of corn, cotton, dairy, hog, sorghum, soybean and wheat.

The dole out is part of up to $12 billion in funds planned for those in the agricultural sector suffering from global tariffs. 

"Early on, the President instructed me, as Secretary of Agriculture, to make sure our farmers did not bear the brunt of unfair retaliatory tariffs," said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Purdue in an August statement.

“It’s important to note all of this could go away tomorrow, if China and the other nations simply correct their behavior,” Perdue said. “But in the meantime, the programs we are announcing today buys time for the President to strike long-lasting trade deals to benefit our entire economy.”