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Vice President Pence hints at more farm aid

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TRADE TALK: Vice President Mike Pence, flanked by Ray and JoLyn Johnson, talks about trade with Minnesota Farm Bureau members while visit the Johnson farm near Glyndon.
In a visit to a Minnesota farm, Vice President Mike Pence said the Trump Administration is looking for more aid for farmers if it has to raise Chinese tariffs.

The Trump Administration is prepared to expand tariffs with China to get what it believes is a fair trade deal, said Vice President Mike Pence during a visit to a farm outside of Fargo-Moorhead Thursday afternoon, May 9.

But if it must expand tariffs it will look for additional ways to provide farmers with aid.

The last time the Trump Administration imposed tariffs on China, it paid soybean growers $1.60 per bushel.

“If we have to expand tariffs to reset the balance in our relationship, you can be very confident that President Trump and I and our entire administration are going to look for ways to provide additional support to American farmers that would be impacted by the negotiations or uncertainty in our relationship with China,” Pence said. “And those discussions have already taken place ... we have already had preliminary discussions in the White House for additional support for farmers if this impasse with China continues.”

Pence visited the R&J Johnson Farm, of Glyndon, Minn. He said he picked Glyndon for this visit to Minnesota because it is in the state’s Seventh Congressional District, represented by Rep. Collin Peterson, a Democrat and chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.

“[Peterson] is a good man,” said Pence, who served with Peterson in Congress for 12 years. “I’m here to call on Congressman Collin Peterson, who supports the USMCA, to call on Speaker Pelosi and tell her to bring the USMCA to the floor and bring it to the floor soon.

“USMCA will pass,” he said. The trade agreement, which replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement “is a win for American farmers. It’s a win for Minnesota. And it is time for Congress to act and approve the USMCA.”

Pelosi had said Wednesday that the House is no closer to a vote on USMCA and wouldn't be until the deal is renegotiated with Mexico and Canada to include stronger enforcement of the labor provisions. The Trump Administration has said it will not reopen negotiations.

Falling prices

About 20 to 30 Minnesota Farm Bureau directors and their spouses, and Minnesota state FFA officers met Pence at the R&J Johnson Farm and presented information on how they and their neighbors are being affected by trade and ag policy.

Nearly all the farmers emphasized the need to get the trade agreements signed. Several quoted the day’s Minnesota grain prices to Pence -- $3.07 per bushel for corn, $6.95 for soybeans and $4.50 for wheat. Market prices were all down Thursday morning.

“To hear these stories,” Pence said at the end of the visit, “to listen to the families who are here — most of which have off-farm income -- to hear about the challenges of input costs; and particularly to hear what they’re hearing from their neighbors and friends … it’s going to give me a better opportunity to go back, as I engage with people on Capitol Hill, and tell the story of the real-world impacts here.

“I mean, the truth is, for everything that’s happening good in this country -- I mean, more Americans working than ever before, 5.8 million new jobs created, the stock market is soaring -- for many people on the farm across this country, this is a challenging time. And it’s challenging because of the uncertainty around our trading relationships with Mexico and Canada.

The Trump Administration is working every day on trade,” Pence told the group.

“We are hopeful” that an agreement will be reached soon with China, he said. “But we are going to stand firm.”

TAGS: Trade
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