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Secretary Perdue hears farmer concerns

Secretary Perdue hears farmer concerns

Producers are worried about the lasting effects of the trade war

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

U.S. farmers questioned Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue about what the government is doing to restore market access for American farm products.

“How are you going to keep the farmers farming?” Joel Schreurs, a cash crop producer from Tyler, Minn., asked Perdue at a listening session during Farmfest in Redwood Falls, Minn. on Wednesday, MPR News reported.

“The exports just aren’t going to be there. We’ve worked a long time to develop these markets, and we’re going to lose this market share. It’s just not going to come back in a day or two. So, how do we make this work?”

About 400 farmers and six members of Congress, including Rep. Collin Peterson, chair of the House Agriculture Committee, attended the session.

The U.S. and China have been locked in a trade war for over a year.

In its latest move, China announced it is suspending all U.S. ag imports in response to President Trump’s threats of more tariffs on Chinese goods beginning in September.

The U.S. wants to negotiate with China but not until it’s on a fair playing field, Perdue told farmers.

“President Trump would love to have a trade resolution,” he said, the Minnesota StarTribune reported. “But you can’t deal with a nation, the No. 2 world economy, that cheats and steals and builds its economy, its military and its desire for world dominance over cybertheft and intellectual property transfers.”

Perdue is also confident the U.S. ag industry can regain any lost market share.

“The markets are fungible. China is going to buy from where they see the best value,” Perdue said, MPR News reported.

Beyond that Minnesota farm show, some producers are calling on additional support payments.

The Trump administration must restore access to China or come up with more financial assistance, said Mark Watne, a cash crop producer from Jamestown, N.D., and president of the North Dakota Farmers Union.

“I’m happy for the (US)$16 billion, but I’d much rather get it from the marketplace,” he told CNBC Saturday. “The reality is I can’t. It’s going to be too little (and) too late for some farmers.”

The White House “should start thinking about another major bailout. Either you let a bunch of farmers go broke or you do another payout.” has reached out to farmers for comment.

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