This weekend U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer said it was good news when China announced it would impose no additional tariffs on pork or soybeans. We agree with the senator, who has long been a faithful champion of farmers and ranchers. China’s announcement is good news. However, the Trump administration may be missing an opportunity as China extends an olive branch.
Unlike American consumers, who are seeing an abundance of pork and low prices at the supermarket, China has a severe shortage of pork.
The Chinese enjoy pork and constitute an important market for U.S. pork — including tons of the tasty meat from Nebraska — but the tariffs it is imposing on U.S. pork imported to China are discouraging the Chinese from buying more U.S. pork.
China’s announcement that it will impose no additional tariffs on pork and soybeans could have been met with a similar announcement from President Trump and his administration to freeze tariffs on Chinese goods destined for the U.S.
Such a gesture might be regarded by Chinese leaders as a positive sign, or maybe even an opening to begin serious negotiations to end the trade war.
Just as citizens of China would like to see more pork and soy products on their tables, U.S. consumers also would appreciate seeing the prices they’re paying for imported Chinese goods fall back to normal. It’s estimated that U.S. consumers are paying about $900 extra for imported Chinese goods because of tariffs, but that $900 is nothing compared to the losses American farmers are suffering.
Last week in a joint message to the Trump Administration, Nebraska farm and ranch organizations and educational leaders outlined the benefits of open trade in a call for congressional ratification of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
Intended as an update to the North American Free Trade Agreement, the details of USMCA had been hammered out by trade representatives from the three participating nations, however, Congress has not taken action.
Fischer this weekend called on her colleagues to ratify USMCA, but for whatever reason, lawmakers refuse to vote on the much needed trade pact.
The delays are costly to Nebraska producers in the short run as crops harvested in 2018 still are in the bin until prices improve. Unfortunately, Nebraska farmers soon will harvest their 2019 crop, and it’s anybody’s guess whether the price they receive will cover production expenses.
Whatever Fischer can do to ignite a sense of urgency among her colleagues would be welcome. The rest of Nebraska’s congressional delegation — Sen. Ben Sasse and Reps. Adrian Smith, Jeff Fortenberry and Don Bacon — also need to get busy.
Nebraska’s farmers are innocent pawns in an ill-advised game of politics. It’s time for government to cut out the games and reopen global markets.