The Trump administration announced yesterday $12 billion dollars in relief funding for farmers harmed by tariffs imposed by China, the EU, Mexico, and Canada in response to those levied by the United States. The USDA says the relief will come through subsidies, surplus purchases and the development of new export markets.
Roy Lindsey of the Oklahoma Pork Council expects the funding to become available in September and says it’s a sign that the president is following through on his promises.
“I can’t tell you I’ve got folks jumping up and down for joy going ‘all is well,’ because we don’t know the details of the program yet,” Lindsey said. “But we do believe it demonstrates the administration is doing exactly what they said they’ve told us they would do and that’s protect our farmers and ranchers while we work through these difficulties in trade.”
Earlier this month the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released a state-by-state analysis showing the impact of the tariffs and criticized the president’s approach to renegotiating trade deals.
“The administration is threatening to undermine the economic progress it worked so hard to achieve,” U.S. Chamber President and CEO Tom Donohue said. “We should seek free and fair trade, but this is just not the way to do it.”
The Chamber’s analysis showed roughly $208 million worth of goods from Oklahoma face tariffs, with pork products making up just over $57 million of the total.
Lindsey says his industry exports 27.5 percent of its product and depends on trade for future growth.
“Of that 27.5 percent, 40 percent of that number faces these punitive tariffs right now in other countries,” Lindsey said. “China and Mexico are the are the two big markets that are impacted.”
Lindsey says he’s eager to resolve trade disputes with China and Mexico, so the industry can turn its attention to making new trade agreements with emerging Asian markets like Japan, which signed a trade agreement with the European Union following the United States’ withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
“We recognize that if it drags on for an extended period of time there's going to be folks that get frustrated,” noted Lindsey. “But for now the president is doing what he said he was going to do.”
On July 26 the National Farmers Union released a statement saying the relief program "will only put a small dent in the overall damage." The organization claims that in June alone, the financial loss to soy, corn, and wheat farmers exceeded the $12 billion promised to farmers.