King Releases Text of Farm Bill, Letter to Trump on Chinese Ag Tariffs

Congressman Steve King, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, is highlighting a link to H.R. 2, the “Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018” (The Farm Bill), that the public can use to read the Farm Bill prior to its scheduled mark-up on Wednesday, April 18. Constituents who would like to offer feedback on the Farm Bill are encouraged to visit Congressman King’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/SteveKingIA) to provide their comments directly to the Congressman.

In addition, Congressman King is releasing the text of a letter he cosigned urging President Donald Trump to “work diligently in its negotiations with China to address China’s trade practices in a manner that will avoid retaliation.” The signatories to the letter, which was sponsored by Rep. Kristi Noem of South Dakota, are concerned about the impacts proposed Chinese retaliatory tariffs of 15-25% will have on American agricultural exports when placed on goods such as pork, ethanol, soybeans, corn, and beef. Those signing the letter are encouraging the President to “take strong steps to end China’s unfair trade practices and other cheating,” but to do so in a way that “will avoid retaliation, helping to return our agriculture industry to a state of certainty and back on the road to prosperity.” The letter was signed by 46 Members of Congress and sent to the President late Friday afternoon.

King has long warned the Administration about the possible adverse effects that retaliatory tariffs could have on American agriculture. Several months ago, King spoke with President Trump over the phone on the subject of retaliatory trade. In addition, King has also previously met to discuss his concerns over retaliatory trade measures with: United States Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer; Deputy Assistant United States Trade Representative for Congressional Affairs, Cameron Bishop; Assistant United States Trade Representative for Congressional Affairs, Christopher Jackson; White House Trade Negotiator, Peter Navarro; and President Trump’s Chief Economist, Larry Kudlow.

In all of these important discussions, King reminded those present of the 1980’s Farm Crisis, which was triggered by former President Jimmy Carter’s disastrous decision to embargo grain shipments to the former Soviet Union. King correctly noted to all participants that the Midwest has never fully recovered from the economic pain caused by Carter’s misguided actions. In March, King joined the rest of the Iowa delegation on a letter to President Trump requesting the President reconsider his intention to place tariffs on steel and aluminum.

Text of letter:

April 13, 2018

The Honorable Donald J. Trump

President of the United States

1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President,

It is no secret that some of your strongest support comes from communities that rely on agriculture for survival. As representatives of districts with a heavy agriculture presence, we have been pleased about so much of your administration’s work related to agriculture. Your leadership and your administration have been vital in providing much-needed relief to Farm Country, from leading the charge on fundamental tax reform to your administration’s U.S.-China 100-Day Action plan securing access for U.S. beef producers to the Chinese market for the first time since 2003. We strongly support your efforts to open China to U.S. agriculture and to take strong steps to end China’s unfair trade practices and other cheating.

All our hard-won gains in Farm Country, however, are at serious risk of being wiped away because China is threatening retaliation against American farmers. We appreciate your commitment to stand by U.S. farmers and ranchers in the face of these outrageous threats.

We’ve seen many recent examples of China’s extraordinary threats to our agriculture community. On January 22, the United States Trade Representative announced safeguard tariffs on imported residential washing machines and solar cells and modules. Less than two weeks later, China launched a baseless antidumping and countervailing duty investigation on sorghum imports from the United States. This retaliatory measure is severe, given that a full 77 percent of U.S. sorghum exports are sold to China, with a value of $1 billion.

Similarly, on March 22, you approved tariffs on imported steel and aluminum under Section 232. That very day, China again took retaliatory measures against America’s agriculture exports, proposing tariffs of 15 percent on agricultural goods such as apples, nuts, ethanol, and wine, and a 25 percent tariff on U.S. pork exports. With U.S. pork exports worth $1.1 billion last year, this reprisal will substantially damage a very important industry.

Most recently, less than 11 hours following the announcement of the Administration’s proposed Section 301 product list, China countered with proposed 25 percent tariffs on agricultural goods such as soybeans, corn, frozen orange juice, wheat, and beef. Soybean exports are worth $14 billion to an agriculture economy already enduring historically tough times.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said recently that farmers are the “tip of the spear when it comes to retaliatory measures” and you have acknowledged that farmers are “great patriots.” Our farmers and ranchers are resilient, but they are already struggling with low commodity prices and drought. With net farm income down by half over the last four years, and no relief on the horizon, they are particularly vulnerable.

Accordingly, we appreciate your support for farmers and ranchers in the face of Chinese retaliation, and we encourage the Administration to work diligently in its negotiations with China to address China’s trade practices in a manner that will avoid retaliation, helping to return our agriculture industry to a state of certainty and back on the road to prosperity.

Sincerely,

Rep. Kristi Noem, Rep. Steve King, 44 Additional Members of Congress