Iowa agriculture leaders urge U.S. to end China trade dispute

Gov. Kim Reynolds and Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig were among the letter writers

Robert Lighthizer speaks after he was sworn as U.S. Trade Representative during a ceremony at the White House in May 15. (Reuters)
Robert Lighthizer speaks after he was sworn as U.S. Trade Representative during a ceremony at the White House in May 15. (Reuters)

Twelve Iowa leaders and members of its agriculture industry have asked the United States to end its trade dispute with China.

Gov. Kim Reynolds, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig and 10 members of agricultural industry groups sent a letter Thursday to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. In it, they ask Lighthizer to resolve the country’s ongoing trade dispute with China “in a way that protects farmers, manufacturers and our state’s economy.”

The group of 12 told Lighthizer that Iowa depends on foreign markets to sell its farm goods and cautioned him that a long-term trade war with China would hurt the state’s farmers.

“China has proven to be a bad actor on numerous occasions and we support the Administration’s commitment to ensuring fair access for our products and fair treatment for our businesses,” the letter reads.

“However, the potential negative impact on Iowa would be dramatic if this dispute with China is not resolved quickly. In the short-term, we face volatility and uncertainty in our commodity markets. Longer-term, we risk losing market share and damaging this important trade relationship that we have spent decades building.”

The United States and China have been in a tit-for-tat dispute over imports and exports since earlier this year.

President Donald Trump and supporters have said the tariffs are necessary to combat what the administration has called China’s unfair trade practices on technology transfer and intellectual property. They also have said the tariffs are needed to bolster core engines of the U. S. economy, such as steel and aluminum production.


In response, though, China has issued or threatened to issue tariffs on a variety of U.S.-made products, including soybeans and ethanol.

Iowa is the No. 1 producer of corn, eggs and pork; the second largest producer of soybeans; and a top state for beef production. The state sends one-third of its soybean crop to China and makes up 30 percent of the United States’ pork production — $1 billion of which is sent to China, the Iowa delegation said in the letter.

“Agricultural products grown and raised here in Iowa and across the heartland have unjustly been placed at the center of this trade dispute, creating significant concerns and market uncertainty,” the letter from Iowa to Lighthizer reads.

The co-signers of the letter also include Iowa Farm Bureau Federation President Craig Hill, Agribusiness Association of Iowa CEO Joel Brinkmeyer, Iowa Cattlemen’s Association CEO Matt Deppe, Iowa Corn Growers Association President Mark Recker, Iowa Pork Producers Association CEO Pat McGonegle, Iowa Poultry Association CEO Kevin Stiles, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw, Iowa Soybean Association President Bill Shipley, Iowa State Dairy Association President Larry Shover and Iowa Turkey Federation Executive Director Gretta Irwin.

The Trump administration sent a delegation that included Lighthizer to China to discuss trade earlier this month.

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