Tag Archives: Trade

Trade negotiations are officially on the horizon with the European Union, Japan and the United Kingdom, continuing the momentum generated by a bilateral deal with South Korea (KORUS) and a renegotiated NAFTA agreement with Mexico and Canada, now the USMCA.

The American Soybean Association (ASA) has consistently requested a negotiated solution to the trade war with China and urged that exports lost to this key market be offset through new free trade agreements. ASA is hopeful that the Administration’s formal notice to Congress that it will enter trade negotiations with the European Union, Japan and the United Kingdom as soon as mid-January will make a settlement with China a plausible next step, bringing an end to the devastating tariff imposed on American soybeans.

Concluding the USMCA and success with subsequent FTA negotiations with Japan, the EU and other countries would mean opportunities to potentially increase U.S. soy and livestock product exports to other promising markets, including the Philippines. ASA is encouraging the Administration to consider adding Vietnam and Indonesia to its list of potential negotiating targets. Knowing, however, that increased sales to these markets won’t offset lost U.S. export to China, ASA continues to emphasize the need to reach an agreement that rescinds the current tariffs and allows soy growers to begin to restore this vital, number one export market.

News on the trade front is getting better for U.S. pork producers as the Trump administration today announced it wants to negotiate trade agreements with the European Union, Japan and the United Kingdom. The National Pork Producers Council commended the administration for its ambitious trade agenda.

The administration recently updated agreements with Canada and Mexico and with South Korea that maintained the U.S. pork industry’s zero-tariff access to those important markets, three of the top five destinations for U.S. pork exports.

“We’ve got the momentum on trade headed in the right direction now,” said NPPC President Jim Heimerl, a pork producer from Johnstown, Ohio. “Producers are hurting because of retaliatory tariffs on pork, which were prompted by the administration’s efforts to realign U.S. trade policy. But producers have been patient, and now that patience is starting to pay off, particularly if we get a trade deal with Japan.”

Since Trump took office in January 2017, NPPC has been urging the White House to begin trade talks with countries in the fast-growing Asia-Pacific region, beginning with Japan, the U.S. pork industry’s No. 1 export market. It also has called for deals with the Philippines and Vietnam.

NPPC also has been supportive of trade negotiations with the United Kingdom, provided that the U.K. is willing to eliminate all non-tariff barriers and embrace U.N. food-safety standards and other international standards.

“NPPC will not support a deal with the U.K. unless it agrees to equivalence, meaning that all USDA-approved pork and pork products must be eligible for export to the U.K. without additional requirements,” Heimerl said.

And while the organization is open to trade negotiations with the U.K., it is skeptical about EU intentions.

“The EU has played the United States like a drum in the past,” said Heimerl. “This must stop. We expect the Trump administration to require the EU to eliminate all tariff and non-tariff barriers to U.S. pork so we can export with no additional requirements.”

While the trade news is good for U.S. pork producers, NPPC is continuing to press the Trump administration to resolve trade disputes with China and Mexico, including dropping tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from the latter. Both countries imposed retaliatory tariffs on U.S. pork in response to the U.S. metals duties.

The United States and Japan are the world’s largest and third largest economies, totaling around 30 percent of the world’s economic output. Japan is the fifth largest consumer of U.S. exports, our fourth largest source of imports, and a top-three consumer of Nebraska’s beef, corn, pork, soybean, egg, and wheat exports worldwide. This is why news of a potential trade agreement to be negotiated between the United States and Japan should be greeted warmly.

Modern trade agreements aren’t just negotiated to address tariffs – they also typically address other issues such as intellectual property protection and accounting standards. In just one example, Japan currently levies a tax of 38.5%, which can escalate as high as 50%, on American exports of beef. Countries which have successfully negotiated trade agreements with Japan, such as Australia, currently have an advantage over the US in the Japanese market because they face dramatically lower rates of tariffs.

Because such an agreement would hold enormous benefits for Nebraska ranchers and farmers, I introduced legislation last year expressing support in Congress for a bilateral trade agreement to be negotiated between our two countries. I have further expressed this sentiment to President Trump and senior administration officials on many occasions. I made the case directly to Ambassador Robert Lighthizer, the U.S. Trade Representative, during the last week of September.

International trade does not have to be a zero-sum game. In the case of Japan, they have negotiated bilateral trade agreements with Australia, the European Union, and Mexico, among others, which means their producers enjoy preferential access to Japanese markets relative to American producers. We need to even the playing field and give Nebraska producers the ability to compete fairly.

President Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recently met at the United Nations General Assembly in New York to discuss our trade relationship. After the meeting they issued a joint statement recognizing the importance of reciprocal trade and the need for a trade agreement between our countries. Given China’s growing influence in the Asia-Pacific region, which threatens Japan, and also our current trade disputes with China, increasing trade and security ties between the U.S. and allies like Japan could help to ensure that China behaves appropriately going forward.

I support trade agreements because reducing regulations, decreasing taxes, and facilitating productive trade policy are among the best ways the federal government can stimulate sustainable, long-term economic growth. So far, President Trump has delivered on his promises to cut burdensome regulations and sign tax reform into law. Negotiating a trade agreement with Japan would add to our list of accomplishments during his first two years in office.

LINCOLN, NEB. – “Ever since the President pulled the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, we have urged the Administration to follow through on its promise of developing bilateral free trade agreements with TPP member countries, especially Japan. Today’s announcement that the United States and Japan have agreed to enter trade talks is tremendous news and couldn’t have come at a better time.”

“Japan is already our largest trading partner for Nebraska beef, and a major purchaser of Nebraska agriculture commodities including pork, corn, soybeans, wheat, grain sorghum, and dairy products. There is no doubt that a bilateral agreement with Japan would be a major win for Nebraska farmers and ranchers if the U.S. is able to reach an agreement with similar terms to those previously negotiated under the TPP, specifically as it relates to tariff reduction on agriculture products.”

“TPP was projected to be a boon for Nebraska agriculture, increasing agriculture cash receipts by more than $378 million per year when fully implemented, with much of that gain attributed to increased trade with Japan. If the U.S. can lower Japan’s existing 38.5 percent tariff on U.S. beef which was slated to gradually decline to 9 percent under TPP, that would be a major victory for Nebraska, the ‘beef state’.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, today released the following statement after President Trump announced plans to begin formal trade negotiations with Japan.

“I applaud President Trump for moving to begin trade discussions with Japan, and I look forward to continuing to engage with the Administration, especially as it relates to agriculture,” Roberts said. “In 2017, the U.S. exported nearly $12 billion in agricultural exports to Japan, placing it as our fourth largest destination. There is a great deal of potential to continue to grow that market, particularly for wheat and beef. At a time when rural America is in a rough patch with low prices and uncertain trade markets, this announcement is positive news.”

On Sept. 13, Chairman Roberts held a hearing to gain insight from the Trump Administration on its trade efforts. Roberts urged officials to strengthen current trade agreements and aggressively seek new agreements with countries like Japan. Click here to read and watch Roberts’ opening statement, as well as the full hearing.

From his post as both Chairman of the Agriculture Committee and as a senior member of the Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction on trade, Roberts has long been outspoken on the benefits of increased access to foreign markets for American farmers and ranchers. Roberts has taken his concerns directly to President Trump, U.S. Trade Representative Bob Lighthizer, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and other high-ranking officials in the Administration on numerous occasions.

President Trump recently signed the amended trade deal with South Korea known as KORUS. Many are hailing the completed deal as President Trump fulfilling his promise to fight for American workers and businesses in international trade.

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall also believes this is a positive move in global trade relations for the U.S.  Duvall has released a statement saying, “President Trump’s approval today of the modernized U.S. – Korea Free Trade Agreement preserves a two-way trade relationship that greatly benefits America’s farmers and ranchers. South Korea bought $6.9 billion worth of U.S. agricultural goods last year, making it our sixth-largest export market. Whether it’s corn, soybeans and wheat, or poultry, eggs and meat products, our agricultural exports to South Korea our growing.”

Duavall is hopeful that the completion of KORUS is the first step in completing other trade deals. Both in North America and in Asia. Duvall said, “Renewal of our trade deal with South Korea is much-needed good news and help for our farmers and ranchers as the agricultural economy struggles. Securing export markets for our products is critical, and we encourage the administration to continue to push for conclusion of other trade agreements, such as an updated NAFTA agreement with Canada and Mexico.

Duvall concluded his statement with praises of USDA officials and their role in the trade negotiations saying, “Our negotiators also should continue pushing to remove barriers to U.S. ag trade in other parts of Asia. As Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue recently stated, now would be a good time to take a fresh look at the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an agreement that Farm Bureau has estimated would boost U.S. agricultural exports by $4 billion per year. Rejoining TPP negotiations would send a clear message to other nations, such as China, that the U.S. is serious about growing key markets for our agricultural products around the world.”

WASHINGTON (AP) — Farmers across the United States will soon begin receiving government checks as part of a billion-dollar bailout to buoy growers experiencing financial strain from President Donald Trump’s trade disputes with China.

But even those poised for big payouts worry it won’t be enough. And while support for Trump is near unwavering in the heartland, some growers say that with the November election nearing, such disappointing aid outcomes could potentially affect their vote.

“It’s pretty obvious that the rural agriculture communities helped elect this administration, but the way things are going I believe farmers are going to have to vote with their checkbook when it comes time,” said Kevin Skunes, a corn and soybean grower from Arthur, North Dakota and president of the National Corn Growers Association.

Corn farmers get the smallest slice of the aid pie. Corn groups estimate a loss of 44 cents per bushel, but they’re poised to receive just a single penny per bushel.

“If these issues haven’t been resolved, there could be a change in the way farmers vote,” Skunes said. “A person has to consider all things.”

Farmers are already feeling the impact of Trump’s trade tiffs with China and other countries. China has hit back hard, responding with its own set of tariffs on U.S. agricultural products and other goods.

The Trump administration is providing up to $12 billion in emergency relief funds for American farmers, with roughly $6 billion in an initial round. The three-pronged plan includes $4.7 billion in payments to corn, cotton, soybean, dairy, pork and sorghum farmers. The rest is for developing new foreign markets for American-grown commodities and purchasing more than two dozen select products, including certain fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, meat and dairy.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced last month that soybean growers will get the largest checks, at $1.65 per bushel for a total of $3.6 billion. China is the world’s leading buyer of American soybeans, purchasing roughly 60 percent of the U.S. crop. But since Beijing imposed a 25 percent tariff on soybean, imports prices have plunged.

The lack of initial detail about how the calculations were made left farmers scratching their heads.

Asked about the confusion, Rob Johansson, the Agriculture Department’s chief economist, responded that the USDA took into account a number of factors “including the share of production that is exported and the value of trade directly affected by the retaliatory tariffs.”

“The level of damage is not the same for each commodity,” he said in a written response to questions submitted by The Associated Press.

He estimated that there would be more than 784,000 applications for relief.

The USDA has since released a detailed analysis of how the department made its calculations.

The breakdown has stunned corn and wheat farmers who say the payments are uneven and won’t do much of anything to help keep struggling farms afloat.

A lobbying group that represents wheat growers is challenging the way the administration determined payments for wheat farmers, who are set to receive 14 cents a bushel. Chandler Goule, CEO of the National Association of Wheat Growers, said the USDA assumed U.S. wheat would be sold to China this year when it made its calculations. But the assumption was flawed, he said.

China typically makes its requests for American wheat between March and June. U.S. wheat farmers have sold, on average, 20 million bushels of wheat to China over the past three years. But none came this year, Goule said, as Trump escalated his threatening rhetoric on trade with Beijing. He hopes the per-bushel rate for wheat goes up if there’s a second round of payments.

“I am very certain that we will not sell any wheat to China this year,” Goule said. “The window we sell in has come and gone.”

The response among farmers has been mixed. While some are grateful for the help, most are eager for the trade disputes to be quickly resolved.

“Nobody wants to have an aid package. I mean, if you’re a farmer you’re in the business of producing a crop. We just want a fair price for it,” said Joel Schreurs, a soybean and corn producer near Tyler in southwestern Minnesota who sits on the board of both the American Soybean Association and the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association.

His personal operation is about 1,000 acres. He farms an additional 500 acres with his son-in-law and other relatives. He estimates that the tariffs would cost him $40,000 to $50,000 in lost income and that he would get $16,000 to $20,000 in emergency aid.

Schreurs worries that it will be hard for farmers to get back the buyers they’ll lose as a result of the trade wars. “And in the short term we have to find another home for those beans, otherwise they’re going to pile up and it will keep prices depressed,” he said.

In the Midwest, growers typically farm both corn and soybeans. Those farmers would get payments for both under the program, which began sign-ups Sept. 4.

Perdue said checks could start going out as soon as the end of September for crops that have already been harvested; payouts are based on yield.

In a recent C-SPAN interview, Perdue said he understands growers’ frustrations.

“Farmers always live in unpredictable times,” he said. “They’re very resilient, but obviously the longer trade issues go on the longer it bears on them regarding what is the future.”

Jack Maloney says corn farmers will be getting so little in bailout aid that for roughly 200,000 bushels of corn a farmer would get only about $2,000 for their losses.

“That’s not even beer money,” said the Brownsburg, Indiana, corn and soybean grower.

Maloney, 62, began farming full time in 1978 and now has two employees. He said some fellow farmers are angry and upset.

“Agriculture has always been the butt of all the trade wars,” he said, adding that this isn’t the first time he’s seen trade disruptions affect the agricultural markets.

Maloney said he had already cut back on expenses during the past three years and hasn’t taken a paycheck from his farm for more than a year because of tough times before the trade war began. He said the recent tumult has dashed hopes for stabilizing agricultural markets anytime soon.

“We were seeing a little light at the end of the tunnel — the markets were improving a little,” he said, “and then this tariff thing happened and this trade war.”

Daniel Weinand worries the market downturn could be the death knell for his farm. Weinand, 30, grows corn, canola and yellow peas on 900 acres of rented land near Hazen, North Dakota. He said he expects to reap about 30,000 bushels of corn, and to receive about $300 in aid.

“A penny a bushel on corn, it’s not that it’s entirely worthless. But it almost is,” he said. “I don’t know how many more years I can weather.”

U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer touched on several topics in an interview with the Rural Radio Network at the KRVN Radio studios on Thursday September 20th.   KRVN News Director Dave Schroeder hosted the interview.  International trade is an issue she closely monitors…

Senator Fischer also updated listeners on the current status of WOTUS or Waters of the US rule.

Sen. Fischer voted in favor of recent legislation in the Senate that helps states and communities in addressing the growing Opiod epidemic…

Bills to lower prescription drug prices came through the Senate in September.    Sen. Fischer cosponsored three bills….

There’s work to be done this Fall in the nation’s Captiol.  Sen. Fischer outlines issues she expects to come up….

China said Tuesday that it will hit back against President Donald Trump with retaliatory duties of five or 10 percent against another $60 billion worth of American products.

The response comes one day after Trump issued the largest number of tariffs yet in an escalating trade dispute. Politico says China is scheduled to implement their plan on Monday to coincide with the new U.S. duties. A total of $113 billion in U.S. exports are now subject to tariffs while duties will be in place on $253 billion in Chinese products.

Trump is prepared to go even higher, saying Tuesday that he’s ready to impose duties on another $267 billion in Chinese imports. The new tariff list includes meat products, including lamb and salted beef; frozen and canned produce like peas and spinach; refined ingredients like soybean, corn, and coconut oil, to processed oats; along with coffee, teas, and liquors.

Ag groups weren’t happy with Trump’s decision to take things further. “As we head into the 2018 harvest season for corn and soybeans out here in Iowa, this escalation of the trade conflict couldn’t have come at a worse time,” says Iowa Ag Secretary Mike Naig.