EU, Mexico and China tariffs roil farm groups
The European Commission announced today it has formalized tariffs on U.S. products in reaction to the U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum, a day after Mexico announced the products on which it will increase tariffs, including apple, potato and dairy items. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said Tuesday that it’s hard to negotiate with China on pork.
The European Commission said in a news release that its college of commissioners had endorsed the tariffs announced earlier.
Perdue told reporters that pork seems to be the sector that is “more difficult to discuss with the Chinese” because China has a domestic glut of pork. “Oftentimes, when you have as much as you need at home, you’re willing to put up barriers against imports,” Perdue told reporters after a town hall meeting for FDA employees at FDA headquarters in Silver Spring, Md.
Of the Mexican tariffs, Angela Hofmann, deputy director of Farmers for Free Trade, a group supported by the American Farm Bureau Foundation and other ag groups, said, “These tariffs will exact immediate and painful consequences on many American farmers. Hog, apple, potato and dairy farmers are among those suddenly facing a 10 or 20 percent tax hike on the exports they depend on for their livelihoods. Farmers need certainty and open markets to make ends meet. Right now they are getting chaos and protectionism.
“These are self-inflicted wounds,” she added. “Farmers deserve better.”
National Pork Producers Council President Jim Heimerl, a pork producer from Johnstown, Ohio, said, “The toll on rural America from escalating trade disputes with critically important trade partners is mounting. Mexico is U.S. pork’s largest export market, representing nearly 25 percent of all U.S. pork shipments last year. A 20 percent tariff eliminates our ability to compete effectively in Mexico. This is devastating to my family and pork-producing families across the United States.
“We appreciate the variety of interests and issues the Trump administration is balancing in its trade negotiations with Mexico, China and other countries. While producers are trying to be good soldiers, we’re taking on water fast,” Heimerl said. “The president has said that he would not abandon farmers. We take him at his word.”
–The Hagstrom Report