Congressman Dave Reichert says “U.S. farmers, ranchers and growers right now are caught in the middle of international crossfire.”

The retaliatory tariffs being imposed by countries like India and China are having an adverse impact on U.S. agricultural products, an influential lawmaker said today as he urged the Trump administration to take steps to protect the interest of American farmers.

The Trump administration’s decision in March to impose tariffs on aluminium and steel imports has triggered a trade war with several countries including China, which has announced retaliatory measures.

In April, Mr. Trump imposed an additional import tariff on some 1,300 Chinese products worth $50 billion and directed to look into another round of additional tariffs worth $150 billion. China was quick in drawing up trade retaliation options against the U.S.

India last month submitted a revised list of 30 items — including motorcycle, certain iron and steel goods, boric acid and lentils — to the WTO on which it proposes to raise customs duty by up to 50%.

‘In the middle of international crossfire’

Congressman Dave Reichert, Chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade, said during a Congressional hearing on ‘The Effects of Tariffs on U.S. Agriculture and Rural Communities’ that “U.S. farmers, ranchers and growers right now are caught in the middle of international crossfire.”

The hearing focused on the effects on American agriculture and rural communities of both the U.S. tariffs imposed under Sections 232 and 301 as well as retaliation imposed by other countries against the U.S. exports.

American farmers, he said, are hurt because products, such as equipment, chemicals and fertilizer, which they need to run lean and competitive agriculture operations have been included on the administration’s Section 301 list, as well as the steel and aluminium they need.

“Adding insult to injury, they are the first to face retaliatory tariffs from across the globe as countries react to the U.S. trade policy decisions. In fact, the U.S. agriculture is now facing retaliatory tariffs from the EU, China, Mexico, Canada, Turkey, Russia, and India,” Mr. Reichert said.

Observing that the administration did not intend for the U.S. agriculture to be hurt, he said the damage is entirely predictable.

“Low commodity prices have made the last several years very challenging for many American farmers. And what we’re hearing from farmers, ranchers, producers and fisherman in my home state of Washington, and many other states across the country, is that U.S. agriculture just isn’t in a healthy place,” the Congressman said.

Mr. Reichert said that in his home state of Washington, one winery has already lost $500,000 in export sales after China imposed a tariff in retaliation for the Section 232 tariffs — their shipments dropped by 50% in the second quarter alone.

In another sector, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that China cancelled nearly $140 million in soybean contracts at the end of June. Cherry producers are really feeling the pinch during their short cherry season, as they face an additional 25% tariff in China, their top export market, he added.

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