Photo Credit: Jason Johnson
Photo Credit: Jason Johnson

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture would provide temporary assistance for farmers who are feeling the impact of countries responding to President Donald Trump’s trade policy.

By policy, I mean his scattershot tariff increases that has put the United States on the precipice of a trade war with China, Canada, and most, if not all, of Europe. Perdue said that the President authorized him to “a short-term relief strategy” to protect farmers while President Trump wages trade wars.

USDA will authorize up to $12 billion in programs, which is in line with the estimated $11 billion impact of the retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agricultural goods.

“This is a short-term solution to allow President Trump time to work on long-term trade deals to benefit agriculture and the entire U.S. economy,” Perdue said in a released statement.  “The President promised to have the back of every American farmer and rancher, and he knows the importance of keeping our rural economy strong. Unfortunately, America’s hard-working agricultural producers have been treated unfairly by China’s illegal trading practices and have taken a disproportionate hit when it comes illegal retaliatory tariffs.  USDA will not stand by while our hard-working agricultural producers bear the brunt of unfriendly tariffs enacted by foreign nations. The programs we are announcing today help ensure our nation’s agriculture continues to feed the world and innovate to meet the demand.”

If “trade wars are good and easy to win,” as Trump believes.  Why would the relief be necessary?

Congressman David Young (R-Iowa) also hit the nail on the head.

During an interview with WHO-TV in Des Moines, Young said, “What this really is though, is the administration, the President, admitting that his trade policies are hurting Iowa farmers and producers, and all across the heartland for that matter. Farmers want markets, they want trade, and not necessarily this aid.”

Exactly. U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) noted that this aide does not address the long-term problem.

“In Iowa alone, more than 456,000 jobs are supported by global trade, and these new tariffs are threatening $977 million in state exports.  While a trade mitigation package could boost farmer morale in the short term, this is ultimately a short term fix,” she remarked. “We need a longer-term strategy to ensure that farmers are able to sell their goods around the globe.  I will continue to push the administration to open up new markets and finalize trade deals, steps that will go the distance to ensure the success of America and Iowa’s agricultural economy.”

U.S. Senator Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska) had a pointed response.

“This trade war is cutting the legs out from under farmers and White House’s ‘plan’ is to spend $12 billion on gold crutches. America’s farmers don’t want to be paid to lose – they want to win by feeding the world. This administration’s tariffs and bailouts aren’t going to make America great again, they’re just going to make it 1929 again,” Sasse said blasting the bailout.

Farmers don’t want a bailout, farmers want expanded free markets. They want the President to pursue sensible trade policies that opens up trade, not restricts it.

This policy is non-sensical as Nathan Nascimento, executive vice president of Freedom Partners, pointed out..

“We urge the Trump administration to use this opportunity to forge a more productive path. Now is the time to capitalize. The administration should engage in immediate and aggressive negotiations toward the president’s stated zero-tariff goal to lower barriers for our exporters, producers, and consumers – a  recipe for building upon this administration’s strong record of economic and job growth. The administration is already projecting a trillion-dollar deficit for fiscal year 2019, so this new $12 billion in spending would be borrowed from China. Borrowing from China to fund the victims of our trade war with China is a self-defeating policy,” Nascimento said.

Not only is it time for President Trump to head back to the negotiation table, but It’s also time for Congress to act to take back their Article I powers so tariffs can no longer be set on a whim.

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