Kansas Republican Jerry Moran says tariffs threaten long-term damage to U.S. agriculture.
Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., on Monday called on the Trump administration to “quickly and successfully” resolve ongoing trade disputes and expressed disappointment that trade talks with China recently took a step back, resulting in raised tariffs.
In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Moran (pictured above) said U.S. tariffs against China and China’s retaliatory tariffs threaten long-term damage to U.S. agriculture.
“The president has encouraged U.S. consumers to not buy goods from China as a way to avoid paying tariffs,” Moran wrote. “However, consumers changing their purchasing decisions to avoid the tariffs provides no solution or relief for Kansas and other states who are dependent on selling what we produce to China and other foreign markets. The same logic expressed by President Trump applies to foreign buyers who are choosing to no longer purchase U.S. agriculture commodities in a similar attempt to avoid the retaliatory tariffs applied to our exports.”
Moran noted net farm income has fallen by 50% since 2013, and the trade war has pushed commodity prices down even further, with many farmers and ranchers “on the verge of financial collapse.”
He pointed to a recent analysis of a cross section of Kansas farms by the Kansas Farm Management Association that found that Agriculture Department Market Facilitation Program (MFP) payments comprised an average of 37% of net farm income last year, adding that the increased reliance on government payments isn’t sustainable.
“While USDA recently announced it will move forward with another round of trade assistance, you have been clear that producers should not anticipate MFP payments in the future,” Moran said. “In other words, an average farmer in Kansas cannot count on 37% of last year’s income going forward. This inherent unpredictability of ad hoc disaster assistance underlies the strong preference of farmers and ranchers for markets to sell their livestock and crops instead of government payments.”
Forthcoming disaster relief should include international food aid program investments, ensure payments to farmers don’t distort planting decisions and focus export promotion programs on new markets immediately available to producers, promoting commodities exports not included in direct producer payments, particularly livestock and meat exports, Moran said.