Ag News

Trump, Perdue talk trade at American Farm Bureau Convention

by Jennifer Whittaker, Georgia Farm Bureau

Posted on Jan 22, 2020 at 0:00 AM

Speaking at the annual American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Convention in Austin, Texas, on Jan. 19,  President Donald Trump touted enthusiastically about the phase one agreement the U.S. reached with China on Jan. 15 and of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) Congress has passed.

“Under this landmark agreement, China will now be purchasing $40 to $50 billion of American agricultural products every single year,” Trump said.

The phase one agreement will open new markets for American beef, pork, poultry, seafood, soybeans, rice, dairy, infant formula, animal feed, biotechnology and more, and covers the next two years, according to the office of the United States Trade Representative.

“China has made substantial commitments regarding the protection of American ideas, trade secrets, patents, and trademarks. China has also pledged firm action to confront pirated and counterfeit goods,” Trump said.

Trump said the phase one agreement with China is enforceable and promised his administration would “vigorously enforce its terms.”

While addressing Farm Bureau members for the third consecutive year, Trump thanked America’s farmers for sticking with him during the past two years of negotiations.

“On behalf of every American worker and family, thank you for standing strong for America. Thank you very much to the farmers and ranchers for standing with me,” Trump said.

While discussing the new USMCA trade agreement that replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Trump said he will sign the agreement within a few days. The Senate approved the deal on Jan. 16, following House passage Dec. 19, 2019.

Under USMCA, Trump said American dairy exports are set to increase by more than $300 million a year and U.S. poultry exports to Canada could increase by nearly 50%. He expects egg exports to Canada and Mexico to increase significantly and that Canada will give fair treatment to U.S. wheat.

Trump said a recent trade deal with Japan resulted in Japan slashing tariffs on $7 billion of U.S. ag products and giving preferential treatment to more than 90% of  U.S. ag exports to Japan.

Trump reiterated his disdain for overreaching federal regulations, citing his administration’s work to repeal the Waters of the United States rule.

While speaking at the AFBF convention on Jan. 20, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue reinforced many of the trade points the President made the day before.

“New trade deals and strong consumer demand are a sign of brighter days ahead,” Perdue said.

Perdue said the third round of a $16 billion trade aid package announced in May 2019 will be paid to farmers "imminently," but they should not expect a 2020 trade aid package.        

“Now let’s grow stuff. Let’s sell stuff. That’s what this trade deal was all about,” Perdue said.

Perdue said the USDA will track the ag imports China buys and report the purchases to the president.

GFB President Gerald Long, who introduced Sec. Perdue before President Trump’s speech on Sunday, said he is optimistic about both trade deals.

“We don’t know everything about the trade deals yet, but it’s better than what we had so I’m very optimistic,” Long said.

During the business session on Jan. 21, AFBF voting delegates adopted all 25 of the resolutions GFB submitted. GFB policy AFBF delegates approved included: farmers’ right to repair farm equipment, maintain component pricing for dairy farmers, and support programs for all producers impacted by retaliatory trade tariffs.

“The grassroots process was alive and well this week as Georgia Farm Bureau was able to secure passage on the national level of numerous policy positions, which surfaced from individual members at the county level. The nation’s largest farm organization will now lobby for these positions in Washington and throughout the world,” Long said.

AFBF voting delegates also re-elected Zippy Duvall to another two-year term as AFBF president.

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