Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig says he believes many of the state’s farmers are taking a “wait and see” approach to the most recent round of trade tariffs with China.
Naig says a successful ag economy depends on reliable trading partners, so any impasse needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. “There’s an appreciation for the fact we’re trying something here, we’re trying to get the Chinese to the table, trying to resolve some of these long-festering issues, but a deep concern when the retaliatory tariffs come into play targeted at ag products that are important to us,” Naig says. “Certainly, we are looking at the soybean situation with China.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports the nation’s farmers have planted more soybeans this year than corn hoping to cash in on higher prices. Although much of the talk in the state’s agriculture sector centers on trade tariffs between the U.S. and China, stalled negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, are also causing concern. Naig says dairy farmers are continuing to struggle.
“We need to make sure we’ve got markets for those products whether that be domestic use or international trade as well,” Naig says. “I know there’s been some challenges with Canada in particular. That’s part of what’s rolled up into that NAFTA negotiation and maybe that’s part of what’s holding that up.”
Naig says many of the state’s farmers are trying to be patient as the so-called “trade war” with China plays out, but if it lingers, the sense of urgency will increase. He says pork, beef, soybean and corn farmers are all feeling the pressure. Speaking in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence said there’s significant progress in reforming NAFTA to make it a deal that works for American farmers and manufacturers long-term.
(By Pat Blank, Iowa Public Radio)