USDA failed to craft a strategy to protect farmers and ranchers
Washington. Yesterday, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue wrongly criticized the tariff actions imposed in 2018 by President Trump. In response, the Coalition for a Prosperous America (CPA)—whose members include many US agricultural producers—reaffirmed its support for the imposition of tariffs and is calling on the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to design and implement an innovative agro-industrial strategy to achieve fairer prices for farmers and ranchers.
CPA Chair Dan DiMicco said, “Secretary Perdue comes from a globalist school of agriculture that supports the very free trade policies that have long injured America’s farmers. Last summer, President Trump directed Secretary Perdue to craft a strategy to support farmers in the face of retaliatory tariffs. However, Secretary Perdue apparently disagreed with the task given by the president and is now breaking with him and joining the tariff critics choir.”
Last year, the Trump administration imposed Section 232 tariffs on global steel and aluminum imports in response to longstanding global overproduction. Domestic capacity had declined to a point that threatened America’s national security and economic security. In a separate action, the administration subsequently imposed Section 301 tariffs on $250 billion worth of imports from China. That 301 action was intended to hold Beijing accountable for years of espionage, cyber hacking, and intellectual property theft.
Rather than end the predatory practices identified in the 301 action, Beijing chose to retaliate against America’s farmers. In response, the Trump administration launched a $12 billion USDA program for affected farmers and ranchers. The plan provides incremental support for producers of soybeans, sorghum, corn, wheat, cotton, dairy, and hogs. It also purchases surplus commodities for distribution to food banks.
Michael Stumo, CEO of the CPA, said, “The USDA compensation program was a good start, but no further strategy was created to address low farm prices which, in most cases preceded the retaliatory tariffs. US agriculture has been suffering from global oversupply and excessive concentration in food processing for many years. USDA’s free trade agenda and opposition to country of origin labeling has spurred imports to displace US farm and ranch products in our home market.
“Further, the free trade policies of the past have not only enabled global oversupply but prevented any action to fix that problem. President Trump directed Secretary Perdue to craft a strategy to protect farmers and ranchers from tariff-related retaliation. Perdue should not respond with opposition to the very steel, aluminum, and China tariffs that are addressing foreign trade cheating.".”