Issues and Headlines

May 24, 2018

May 24, 2018

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the National Corn Growers Association, CropLife America, and Renewable Fuels Association. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary -

Topping the chart on America’s farms and ranches has been worries about a trade war. The United States and China threatened tariffs and trade restrictions. We announced $150 billion of levies on Chinese goods coming in to the U.S. China planned $50 billion of taxes on U.S. farm products. China had closed the door on our exports of sorghum also.

But, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and his Trump Team sat down with the Chinese Team and came away with good news, announcing that we have decided to “put the trade war on hold.” Here is what the New York Times had to say: “China pledged to increase purchases of American goods by $200 billion by 2020.” President Trump’s critics, however, argue that a $200 billion increase is not possible.

Okay – but maybe we could increase exports to China by $100 billion. A good chunk of that could be agriculture and energy products. We’ll take that. Now, I realize that at this point we only have a verbal agreement. However, I am hopeful. China and the U.S. need to work together. We both have North Korea to be concerned about, and a war on the Korean Peninsula would be a far bigger problem for China than the U.S.

In addition, President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping appear to be pretty good friends. If China will begin to reform their trade practices, the whole world will stand up and cheer. We realize success is not guaranteed, but there is a sigh of relief in farm country for now.

Another concern popped up that we had not anticipated. The House farm bill was put up for a vote and it failed. Thirty Republicans and all the Democrats voted against it. Some of the opponents were using the bill as leverage to get a vote on entirely separate legislation – legislation to reform immigration policy. With all of this craziness going on, let me just say that

I think we will get a farm bill. Farm bills are always hard to get across the finish line. The House and Senate will have to pass separate bills and reconcile the two. The current farm legislation is still in place and we will be fine if we can pass a bill or an extension by the end of the year.

Stay tuned.

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Until next week, I am John Block in Washington, D.C.