Firming up existing trade agreements and joining with multicountry trade pacts would give U.S. producers better prices for some products than they can get domestically, farmers said at the WSJ Global Food Forum. Farmers said giving priority to trade would help reduce the need for government aid, which climbed to a record level in 2020 as the Trump administration sought to stem losses from the U.S.-China trade war and the food-supply chain was upended by the pandemic.
“If we don’t have trade we’re not going to get the full value of what we’re selling,” said Kimberly Ratcliff, a Texas cattle rancher.
Mr. Trump’s tenure was a turbulent time for U.S. farmers, who have grown more reliant on selling their crops and meat overseas as domestic production outstrips the appetites of U.S. consumers. Duties the Trump administration levied on goods from China, Mexico, Canada and the European Union sparked retaliatory tariffs targeting U.S. agricultural products from pork to soybeans to apples, cutting into U.S. agricultural exports and sending farm commodity prices plunging.
President Biden said during his campaign that he would scale back trade disputes and align like-minded countries to push nations, including China, to engage in fairer trade practices. That approach could limit China’s ability to target U.S. farm goods with retaliatory tariffs, Mr. Biden’s campaign said, protecting U.S. farmers from market swings.
Tom Vilsack, Mr. Biden’s nominee to lead the Agriculture Department, said in his Senate confirmation hearing earlier this month that expanding farmers’ access to new markets is key to stabilizing the U.S. farm economy. Southeast Asia and Africa, he said, represented promising markets for U.S. farm goods, where competitors are already making inroads.
The European Union is eager to work with the Biden administration to alleviate the trade tussle that developed between the U.S. and E.U. during Mr. Trump’s term, said European Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowsk at the forum.
“I can see a good possibility for development of our trade relations,” Mr. Wojciechowsk said, adding that the E.U. is willing to resume negotiations as soon as possible, as tariffs have hurt agriculture on both sides of the Atlantic. “Our farmers are waiting for us to solve this problem,” he said.
Paul Fribourg, CEO of agricultural investment firm Continental Grain Co., said the U.S.-China relationship is the food industry’s single biggest challenge. Trade disputes in recent years have cast doubt on the reliability of the U.S. as a food supplier, a huge hurdle for U.S. farmers given the size…
Go to the news source: Trade deals key to lifting demand for agricultural products, farmers say