EVANSVILLE, Ind., June 1 (UPI) — America’s agricultural exports this year are predicted to fall some $6.3 billion from last year, according to a new report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Most of that decline is in soybeans, corn, wheat and pork — the commodities most impacted by the United States’ various trade conflicts with China and Mexico.
The USDA released its report Thursday, the same day President Donald Trump threatened to impose a new 5 percent tariff on all Mexican imports, re-igniting fears among the agricultural community of another escalating tit-for-tat tariff dispute that would further reduce agricultural exports.
“American pork producers cannot afford retaliatory tariffs from its largest export market, tariffs which Mexico will surely implement,” David Herring, president of the National Pork Producers Council, said Friday in a statement. “Over the last year, trade disputes with Mexico and China have cost hard-working U.S. pork producers and their families approximately $2.5 billion.”
The pork council was one of many farm groups up in arms over the president’s threat. By Friday afternoon, groups across the country had come out with strongly worded statements urging Trump not to impose tariffs.
“With the loss of China, our largest trading partner, Iowa farmers continue to bear the brunt of tariff-initiated trade reform,” the Iowa Soybean Association’s statement said. “The last thing farmers need right now is a secondary dispute that once again rests on the backs of rural Americans. Mexico is now Iowa’s top trading partner.”
Also on Friday, China’s latest round of retaliatory tariffs on $60 billion of American exports went into effect — further prolonging that tariff standoff.
“Trade — particularly exports — is critical to American agriculture,” said Michael Nepveux, an economist with the American Farm Bureau Federation. “About a quarter of U.S. farm products by value are exported.”