Agriculture chief: Farmers 'understand' trade spat with China

Agriculture chief: Farmers 'understand' trade spat with China
© Greg Nash

Agriculture Secretary Sonny PerdueGeorge (Sonny) Ervin PerdueAdministration announces plan to streamline oil and gas extraction in national forests The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance — How will Obama impact the midterms? Here are the administration officials who have denied they wrote the anonymous NYT op-ed MORE insisted on Tuesday that most U.S. farmers understand that President TrumpDonald John TrumpGrassley: Dems 'withheld information' on new Kavanaugh allegation Health advocates decry funding transfer over migrant children Groups plan mass walkout in support of Kavanaugh accuser MORE's trade spat with China is necessary. 

Speaking at the United Fresh industry conference in Chicago, Perdue vowed to protect U.S. farmers from economic harm stemming from trade fights. 

"They understand that China has not been a fair player," Perdue said, according to Reuters, later adding that the Trump administration "will not allow agriculture producers to bear the brunt of China’s retaliation as we defend our own interests as a nation."

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Perdue said that he hoped to have a plan in place for protecting farmers by the time the fall harvest begins even if the dispute with China isn't resolved by then, Reuters reported. 

He said at a news conference that the Commodity Credit Corp could be used to help alleviate potential financial harm to U.S. farmers. 

President Trump has stood by his decision to impose steep tariffs on products from a number of countries, including China. Those tariffs have prompted trading partners to respond in kind, with U.S. agriculture products as a key target.

China imported nearly $20 billion in U.S. agricultural goods in 2017, making it one of the largest importers of U.S. agricultural products.

U.S. lawmakers from farm states, like Iowa, have urged the Trump administration to back down from his trade barrier threats, warning that retaliatory measures against the U.S. could have a significant impact on their states.

The entire Iowa congressional delegation sent a letter to Trump on Monday, in which they called the tariffs "catastrophic for Iowa's economy."

"Mr. President, these tariffs have real consequences on states like Iowa," the lawmakers wrote, according to the Des Moines Register. "We encourage you to act expeditiously to save our rural economies."