US farm lobby calls for swift end to China trade war

Washington (AFP) –


A major US farming organization called Wednesday for a swift resolution to the trade war with China, saying lost exports were exacerbating the burden of an industry already in hard times.

The American Farm Bureau Federation released a letter dated Tuesday to President Donald Trump saying "time is running out for many in agriculture."

With farm revenues cut in half over the last six years on falling commodity prices, bankruptcies have shot up in the Midwestern US breadbasket as many farmers struggle to pay down their debts, according to the Farm Bureau.

The trade war with China, however, has gutted US farm exports to what had been a giant market for US soybeans and pork, among others.

"US farmers and ranchers now face a third wave of tariff increases by China in retaliation against the latest increase in US tariffs," Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall said in the letter.

Some farmers recovering from devastating floods have simply decided to skip planting this season due to the lack of export markets, he added.

"We ask that your trade negotiators make a deal as soon as possible to end the tariffs that are slashing our exports, destroying a once-promising market for agriculture, worsening the farm economy, and contributing to high levels of stress and uncertainty for many farm and ranch families and other Americans whose jobs are connected to agricultural production."

Trump had told farmers Tuesday to take heart, claiming that they ultimately would benefit from a realignment of trade relations with China.

He has likewise promised to boost aid packages to farms that have lost income, using revenue generated by the tariffs charged on Chinese imports.

In July 2018, the government unveiled a $12 billion bailout fund and US farmers already receive about $20 billion in annual assistance through various aid programs.