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Perdue: Tariffs May Impact Farm Bill
USAgNet - 04/06/2018

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue acknowledged this week that the U.S.-China tit-for-tat tariff standoff may force Capitol Hill lawmakers to factor in trade disruptions as they work on the next farm bill.

As Perdue's third RV tour as secretary brought him to Ohio, China announced that dozens of farm products - including soybeans and beef - stand to face 25-percent tariffs if the U.S follows through with 25-percent duties of its own on hundreds of Chinese goods in the Trump administration's effort to force Beijing to change its intellectual property practices.

POLITICO reports that Perdue tried to offer some reassurance that President Donald Trump will not allow farmers "to be the casualties if this trade dispute escalates," but he later added that Congress might have to use the farm bill to help producers.

"While we look to the farm bill to have a safety net, it has to be taken in the context of current events, and that would be the trade disputes that are ongoing," Perdue said, cautioning that he couldn't say with certainty how the brewing trade war with China would ultimately affect agricultural producers.

"I hope they would continue to develop a program that would create a safety net, but there may have to be some extraordinary measures taken, based on what we see regarding the trade dispute," he added.

It's all about funding - and funding challenges: Perdue didn't elaborate on what type of measures lawmakers may need to consider adding to the next farm bill, but USDA has broad authority to utilize emergency funds to stabilize elements of the agricultural economy. However, Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) said at a Finance Committee hearing last month that adding a "special payment" to the farm bill to account for trade-related woes would complicate the already challenging funding situation, reports POLITICO.

The tariffs, which have yet to take effect, come in addition to Beijing's announcement Sunday that it was imposing duties on $3 billion in U.S. exports such as pork, fresh and dried fruit, and wine.

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