As China’s tariff on U.S. soybeans continues to take its toll, growers look for help from Congress
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Returning to Washington just weeks after their July Board of Directors meeting, grower leaders from the American Soybean Association (ASA) met again with officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Members of Congress to consider options for offsetting the long-term damage from China’s retaliatory tariff on American soybeans.
John Heisdorffer, a soy grower from Keota, Iowa, and President of ASA said, “We know that President Trump is aware of how hard this is hitting agriculture and specifically soybeans. The recent announcement that the European Union has agreed to buy more U.S. soybeans is a welcome step. Given the scale of potential damage from the tariff, we need more market-opening measures if we are going to survive the long-term repercussions on soybean exports.”
“We are asking, first, that Congress pass a new long-term farm bill that increases funding for export promotion under MAP and FMD. The Trade Promotion Program announced by USDA last month will supplement these much-needed efforts, and we hope to see this funding extended over a multi-year period so that activities can be coordinated with the Congressionally-mandated programs.”
In addition to asking Congress to pass the Farm Bill, ASA grower leaders urged the House Ways and Means Committee and Senate Finance Committee to support negotiation of new free trade agreements. ASA is asking that NAFTA be in place by the end of 2018, and that bilateral FTAs be initiated with Japan and other countries that offer increased markets for soy and livestock products. ASA also asked lawmakers to support funding to upgrade inland waterways infrastructure in order to maintain the U.S. competitive advantage.
“We need these tools,” said Heisdorffer. “The certainty and stability of our industry depends on, number one, getting these tariffs removed as quickly as possible and, number two, taking steps now to offset the damage done by this trade war by negotiating trade agreements and funding programs essential to opening new markets for our farm products.”
China imported 31 percent of U.S. production in 2017, equal to 60 percent of total U.S exports and nearly one in every three rows of harvested beans, which makes expanding existing and finding new markets crucial for the U.S. soybean industry.