Senate Committee Hearing On Agricultural Trade: Trump Tariffs And Farm Bill Cause Worry

Sep 13, 2018       –        Beth Kaiserman
The U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry met today to discuss agricultural trade, amidst Trump’s trade wars and the pending Farm Bill.
Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) said these are the two biggest concerns he hears about nationwide.

 

Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, led a hearing today on U.S. agricultural trade. Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg

“I hear from wheat growers about the need for market access to sell what they produce.”

“I hear from beef producers about barriers to trade that are preventing their product from entering an export market,” Roberts said in his opening statement.”

 “And I hear from producers across the agriculture industry, and across our value chain, about how trade policies impact their prices, decisions, and livelihoods.”

 

 

 

Trade War and U.S. Farms

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and others voiced growing concerns over the farm economy, especially for small farmers, after this summer’s trade wars and an announcement that another $267 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports is ready to go, President Trump said on Friday. China, the E.U., Canada and Mexico have been hit by U.S. levies on imports and have in return placed their own tariffs on U.S. agricultural exports. Years of low prices for corn and soy have been exacerbated by these new tariffs.

 

 

 

Farm Bill and SNAP

After the meeting, Trump chimed in on Twitter:

 

“Senator Debbie Stabenow and the Democrats are totally against approving the Farm Bill. They are fighting tooth and nail to not allow our Great Farmers to get what they so richly deserve. Work requirements are imperative and the Dems are a NO. Not good!”

 

Last week Mathematica predicted 2 million people would lose SNAP benefits if the House version is passed. Senate Democrats have refused to approve cutting off food assistance for many low-income citizens. Of course, this affects farmers too, as many farmers markets are a source of healthy food for SNAP participants.

 

 

 

 

Why It Matters

With so much noise happening in politics, it’s easy to forget: ‘You are what you eat.’ What’s in your salad or smoothie starts with farmers who work tirelessly to get food on tables across the world. It can be difficult to process the economic situations within the food system until actually seeing the prices of food items increase.
The concerns today were clear: American farmers are worried about losing their farms as a result of Trump’s trade policies. Trump’s $12 billion in farm subsidies – promised to offset the damage – doesn’t extend to small fruit and vegetable growers. It is becoming more difficult to start or maintain a small farm in the U.S.
The current plans for U.S. agricultural trade offer “short-term pain with hopes of long-term gain,” Ted McKinney, under secretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs, said.

 

“How do you explain that to the farmer who’s going to lose everything?” Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) said.

You can listen to the full hearing here, and tune in for the next one Sept. 20.

Click Here to View this Story from Forbes