CEDAR RAPIDS — Sen. Chuck Grassley is no fan of tariffs, especially when they hit Iowa farmers who rely on foreign trade to sell their crops and livestock.
“I believe free and fair trade has been good for the world at least since World War II,” Grassley said Wednesday. “After the war, 50 percent of the population lived in poverty. Now it’s less than 10 percent.”
So he’s disappointed by the announcement of additional tariffs by both China and the United States,
“This will hurt both countries and will have an impact on the global economy, as well,” he told reporters during a conference call. “So I hope an enforceable agreement can be (reached) sooner rather than later.”
The new round of tariffs “intensifies the urgency to end the trade war,” Grassley said.
Sen. Joni Ernst expressed support for President Donald Trump’s goal of changing China’s trade practices. She thinks Iowans recognize that Trump “is the only one who has successfully brought the Chinese to the negotiating table.”
Like Grassley, Ernst said Iowans “are also feeling the pinch and need to see that market back open for trade.”
“We want trade deals, not tariff wars,” Ernst said.
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Grassley cautioned that ending the tariffs will not necessarily solve farmers’ problems. They were hurting before Trump imposed tariffs because production costs were higher than commodity prices.
“Even if tariffs go off right now, with the oversupply, prices would still be below the cost of production” for corn and soybeans, said Grassley, who is involved in a family farm operation in Butler County.
The Trump administration, which provided $12 billion in assistance for farmers affected by the tariffs, is discussing $15 billion more in aid.
“Americans understand the need to hold China accountable, but they also need to know that the administration understands the economic pain they would feel in a prolonged trade war,” Grassley said.
“For this all to be worth it, the president needs an enforceable deal with China” to end its abusive trade practices.
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