Breaking: I-30 reopens in both directions; high water caused closures, backed up traffic for miles
Today's Paper Search Latest In the news Traffic #Gazette200 Listen Digital replica FAQ Weather Newsletters Obits Puzzles + Games Archive
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
story.lead_photo.caption A loader piles soybeans Monday at the Frontier Coop in Schuyler, Neb. As the U.S.-China trade standoff escalates, the personal income of farmers declined by $11.8 billion through the first three months of 2019 and is likely to continue falling, officials say.

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump on Tuesday rushed to placate farmers and Senate Republicans about his trade war with China, with lawmakers now considering a package of fresh bailout funds.

Farmers, lawmakers, business executives, and global investors are looking to Trump for clues on how far he intends to take the trade showdown with China. On Monday, Trump suggested the standoff could last years and lead to structural changes in the global economy.

On Tuesday, Trump offered conflicting forecasts, musing that a deal could come in the next month but also predicting an economic battle with Beijing.

In one Twitter post, he said he would sign off on a deal "when the time was right," but in another post he called for using the U.S. Federal Reserve to thwart China's economic agenda.

"In any event, China wants a deal!" Trump wrote.

Document

LIST: $300 billion more of Chinese goods for possible tariff hikes

View

The office of the U.S. trade representative on Monday published a list of 3,805 Chinese-made products that could be hit for the first time with 25% tariffs. The list includes things like tuna, pacifiers, saw blades, flashlights, door chimes, billiard balls and golf carts. It excludes pharmaceuticals and rare-earth minerals used in electronics and batteries.

The agency will take public comments and hold a hearing on the proposed tariffs June 17.

In its earlier rounds of tariffs on Chinese products, the administration tried to limit the effect on American consumers by focusing on so-called intermediate goods -- imported components that U.S. companies use to make finished products.

The trade war that began last summer has already hurt farmers, despite $11 billion in relief payments that were doled out last year by the federal government. The personal income of farmers declined by $11.8 billion through the first three months of 2019, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. A similar pace of decline is expected in the coming months, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

"The domestic stress caused by the administration's trade policy is nowhere more evident than in the agricultural sector," said Joseph Brusuelas, chief economist at the consultant RSM. "Should the current policy pathway not be changed, the farm sector is going to experience the greatest downturn since the late 1980s, driven by widespread bankruptcies and consolidation."

U.S. companies exported $9.3 billion in agriculture products to China last year, making it the fourth largest market. The biggest exports were soybeans, cotton, hides and skins, pork, and coarse grains such as corn.

The mounting concern from farmers and business groups showed signs of bleeding into the 2020 presidential campaign. Trump has attacked former Vice President Joe Biden, a Democratic contender for the nomination, and alleged that Democrats didn't act forcefully enough to counter China in past decades. But Biden on Monday told the radio station WMUR that Trump was creating collateral damage with his blunt trade agenda, which has relied on costly tariffs that U.S. companies must pay to bring in Chinese products.

"The American worker is getting killed by this," Biden said. "The American farmers are getting killed."

In a sign of the concern for lawmakers, some Republican leaders are looking at a way to amend an unrelated disaster-relief package to free up billions of dollars in rescue money for U.S. farmers.

Trump has alleged for years that China rips off U.S. businesses and consumers by stealing intellectual property and rigs its currency to flood the U.S. with cheap imports. He has also complained that the U.S. imports $500 billion more in Chinese goods than it exports to Beijing, an imbalance he says is unfair.

To force the Chinese government to change its behavior, he has imposed steep tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese goods and threatened to extend these import penalties to more than $300 billion in additional products.

China has responded in two ways, both by trying to negotiate with him to stop the tariffs and by imposing import penalties on U.S. exports like soybeans and other items. This has led U.S. farmers to complain they are being caught in the middle of the standoff, putting pressure on lawmakers to intervene.

Senate Republicans on Tuesday were dealing with complaints from powerful farm groups.

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., on Tuesday was asked by a reporter about the level of patience among farmers with the trade standoff and he held his thumb and index finger an inch apart.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said the White House's approach to helping farmers so far was "inadequate" and that more needed to be done, and soon.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said he planned to write a letter to Trump to explain the concerns of farmers because he felt the argument he had repeatedly made to the president in person was not registering.

"I'm not sure if you talk to him face to face he hears everything you say," said Grassley, who has emerged as one of Trump's chief critics on the administration's trade approach in recent weeks.

Trump last year directed the U.S. Department of Agriculture to spend $12 billion on programs to help U.S. farmers affected by the trade war, and he has suggested he will send another $15 billion to farmers this year. But lawmakers and farm groups are confused as to how this would work, and Trump on Monday said the plan was still being "devised."

Soybean farmers and pork producers received much of the focus last year, but a widening range of farmers and fishermen have complained they are being affected. Lawmakers are now trying to decide whether they can find ways to help cherry producers, corn growers, lobstermen, and others.

On Tuesday, Trump wrote on Twitter that "our great Patriot Farmers will be one of the biggest beneficiaries" of his trade policies. He said that would come either from China buying more U.S. products or the U.S. government making up the difference.

One idea under consideration would be an expansion of bailout funds from the Commodity Credit Corp., a division of the Agriculture Department.

Trump used that program to help farmers last year. But Chinese officials signaled Monday that they planned to dramatically increase restrictions on U.S. imports, including agricultural products, in retaliation for new tariffs imposed by Trump.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., chairman of the agriculture appropriations subcommittee, said U.S. officials would use a type of "market facilitation payment" but also make direct purchases on behalf of the government from U.S. producers.

He did not specify how much money would be directed to these initiatives, but he said some of it would be paid for with money that the Treasury Department brings in through tariffs on Chinese imports.

Farm groups are among the most politically powerful in the United States, particularly in the Senate. Trump has appeared unmoved by many of the business groups who have complained about his trade approach, but he has frequently promised to appease farmers.

Information for this article was contributed by Damian Paletta, Erica Werner and Taylor Telford of The Washington Post; and by Paul Wiseman, Joyce M. Rosenberg and Blake Nicholson of The Associated Press.

Photo by The New York Times/AMR ALFIKY
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, told reporters Tuesday that despite repeated conversations with President Donald Trump about farmers’ concerns with tariffs, he intended to write a letter to Trump outlining the arguments. “I’m not sure if you talk to him face to face he hears everything you say,” Grassley said.
Photo by AP/ERIC RISBERG
A container ship sails past the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco on Tuesday. President Donald Trump complains that the U.S. imports $500 billion more in Chinese goods than it exports to Beijing, an imbalance he says is unfair.

A Section on 05/15/2019

Print Headline: Trump reassures hurting farmers

ADVERTISEMENT

Sponsor Content

You must be signed in to post comments

Comments

  • RBear
    May 15, 2019 at 6:45 a.m.

    The headline is misleading with regards to Trump's message to farmers. Listening to it, the president showed little empathy for the farmers other than hollow words. In fact, he deferred reporters to Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue, which shows he really doesn't have a clue about the plight of farmers.
    ...
    Gov. Hutchinson said it best yesterday. From KUAR, "Everybody understands that we want a better trade policy with China. We support the president in doing that, we just want to know the end game, and that we’re going to be able to, in the end, we need to have our tariffs lowered so we can have our global commerce that supports our farmers," Hutchinson said.
    ...
    That's exactly what is missing from this president's approach. There is no real end game. Trump is pushing a totem his base can say called "tariffs," but few can understand. Try a little history like Smoot-Hawley to see how this turns out.

  • wowy
    May 15, 2019 at 7:47 a.m.

    ! ! ! T R U M P ! ! !
    ! ! ! 2 0 2 0 ! ! !
    ! ! ! M A G A ! ! !
    T h I s
    I S
    M A G A
    C o u n t r y ! ! !
    O h Y e a h ! ! !

  • Illinoisroy
    May 15, 2019 at 7:57 a.m.

    "...some Republican leaders are looking at a way to amend an unrelated disaster-relief package to free up billions of dollars in rescue money for U.S. farmers." So we pay for this self-imposed "disaster relief" and pay tariffs. Too much winning!!

  • Illinoisroy
    May 15, 2019 at 7:58 a.m.

    oh yeah forgot wowy, America was already great!

  • davisdds
    May 15, 2019 at 8:12 a.m.

    "NO PAIN, NO GAIN" still holds true...

  • davisdds
    May 15, 2019 at 8:12 a.m.

    "NO PAIN, NO GAIN" still holds true...

  • seitan
    May 15, 2019 at 8:54 a.m.

    Davisdds. The problem with cliches is that they are interpretive. Who's pain, who's gain? I don't see Trump sacrificing anything while farmers go bankrupt and Ford lays off hundreds of workers. Prices on everything have been rising in this "booming" economy while wages have stayed flat. And those prices are about to go up again.

  • 3WorldState1
    May 15, 2019 at 9:07 a.m.

    We know what will happen. A weak deal like the new “NAFTA” (although it hasn’t still been voted on) will be garnered and he will scream as a big win. When it will probably be marginal and the hurt caused won’t be commensurate with the gain.
    We should have done the TPP to put real pressure on China and open new markets.

  • SeanJohn
    May 15, 2019 at 9:32 a.m.

    I was too busy to read the paper yesterday, but did read several of the 74 comments or so in regards to what Cotton said about the tariffs, Trump, and farmers. I had to chuckle a little. I was unaware that libs gave a flip about Trump voting, gun toting farmers. There was a story here a few weeks ago about Arkansas farmers bordering the White River. They claimed that the Army Corps of Engineers had changed the way it manages the river. They claimed that the corps was managing the river more for recreation instead of farming. This type of management kept water on the farmland longer and prevented the farmers from getting the crops planted when they should. I recall that nobody commented in favor of the farmers. So, I figure the libs are more interested in bashing Trump policy than they are in the fate of farmers. I'm sure a few of you, in regards to farmers, have even stated, "See, this is what you get when you vote for Trump." Sorry, but I'm not buying that y'all really care about the fate of farmers, even though they're the ones that are feeding you.

  • seitan
    May 15, 2019 at 9:33 a.m.

    Hey, Seanjohn. Trump claimed that windmills give you cancer. Top that.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT