Trade Battle On Multiple Fronts

May 3, 2019  | 3 min  | Ep4437

The tariff battle that has raged for nearly a year continues to aggravate many in rural America. Flooding has failed to put the fire out as millions of acres remain unplanted. As trade negotiations ramped up, the head of USDA brought his talking points on trade and floods to the Midwest. Producer contact paul.yeager@iptv.org

Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue toured a central Iowa manufacturing plant earlier this week. At nearly the same moment, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lightheizer arrived in China for another round of trade negotiations.

The three administration members were on a similar mission, to help shore up support for the president’s goal of a better trade environment for America.

Secretary Sonny Perdue: “So it's a huge potential. I just don't raise expectations as a done deal. I mean, I wish it was done today based on the numbers we see, but so there's a lot of work to be done. Hopefully President Xi and President Trump can come together and seal the deal, later we're optimistic but cautiously optimistic.”

One of the president’s biggest trade deals to date is the agreement to replace NAFTA. The USMCA pact still needs Congress’ approval.

Republican Senator of Iowa Charles Grassley wrote in an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal that a significant roadblock would be lifted if the president remove tariffs on steel and aluminum. Adding quote: “If these tariffs aren’t lifted, USMCA is dead. There is no appetite in Congress to debate USMCA with these tariffs in place.”

Secretary Perdue was a little more diplomatic in his comments on the issue.

Secretary Sonny Perdue: “I just hope Congress will put, once again, politics aside and vote for America and ratify this. I believe the President at some point. If that's the case, could be persuaded to use and go back to the quota system, where he's concerned about the steel industry and revitalization of the steel industry, which he has to be in an overall economy. But as you know President Trump doesn't feel very much with threats.”

Delaney Howell: “Besides comments on trade, Sec. Perdue also offered his comments on flooding impacting the Midwest.”

Secretary Sonny Perdue “Flooding there’s total devastation, river, some people lost everything. It’s not really an insurable opportunity through USDA program. That’s what we really need. The safety net the farm bill provides is one thing, but it doesn’t contemplate total devastation, hopefully can get some help.”

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