In this post, I’m both quoting and encapsulating an editorial written by Gregg Hillyer, Editor-in-Chief of the Progressive Farmer – a magazine that my family reads avidly each month.
Hillyer opens his September, 2018 piece by refreshing our memories that Nixon essentially both endorsed and opened up trade with China by his visit there in 1972 when he shared a “toast to trade” with Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai. Since that time, America has been inundated with products produced in China. Hillyer continues to recount recent history where President Trump, in an effort to rectify trade inequities, placed tariffs on $34 billion dollars worth of Chinese goods to which China retaliated by imposing matching tariffs. Hillyer’s trade discussion continues: “Since then, the Trump administration has threatened to add a 25% tariff on an additional $200 billion in imports from China. . .with China responding by an additional $60 billion of U.S. products. Beijing’s strategic move to place tariffs on soybeans was not by accident. It was a direct shot at states where soybeans are a major crop – and at the wallets of Midwestern farmers, who are some of the president’s strongest supporters. In 2017, China imported 60% of total U.S. soybean exports. That represented nearly one in three rows of harvested soybeans, with a value of $12.4 billion. The importance of the Chinese market to U.S. farmers can’t be overstated. (Even so). . . the nation’s farmers stand firmly behind the president and his approach to getting America a better deal with our trading partners, whether it’s China, Canada, Mexico, the European Union or others. Many farmers like the president’s bravado and his willingness to fray longstanding alliances. As one Illinois farmer told me, ‘I’m a huge proponent of free and fair trade. In that scenario, America wins every time. It was time for someone to shake things up.’ Ron Heck, an Iowa farmer and member of the Trump Agricultural Advisory Committee realizes farmers will be negatively impacted by China’s tariffs on U.S. soybeans, but believes that the short term pain is worth the gain. He says, ‘There’s hazards. I get it. But, we have much to gain with present and past grievances that haven’t been addressed before.’ He’s confident that the U.S. and China will work out a deal. Of course, getting a fair and equitable deal is what it’s all about. And, America’s farmers believe they have the best dealmaker fighting on their behalf. [In Trump’s book, ‘The Art of the Deal’] Trump reveals his negotiating style: ‘. . . my experience is that if you’re fighting for something you believe in – even if it means alienating some people along the way – things usually work out for the best in the end.’ It’s time, once again, to be able to toast to fair trade.”
My thanks to Gregg Hillyer, The Progressive Farmer, September, 2018.