Trump addressed the issue in a Cabinet meeting, saying that “If during the course of the negotiation they want to hit the farmers because they think that hits me. I wouldn’t say that’s nice, but I tell you our farmers are great patriots. They understand that they’re doing this for the country. We’ll make it up to them. In the end they’re going to be much stronger than they are right now.”
Beijing announced tariffs on US food products last week, like frozen pork and soybeans.
Administration officials have denied any threat over the tariff talks, including new White House economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, who told Fox News on Sunday: “I don’t think there’s any trade war in sight.”
China is the second-largest buyer of American agriculture goods. And while the current levies proposed by the Chinese aren’t expected to have an impact on the broader economy, farm groups have expressed concern over the impact on their own industry.
The American Farm Bureau Federation’s senior director for congressional relations, David Salmonsen, said, “Depending on how much less buying there is, it’ll impact producers. It’ll come down to farmers, it’ll come down to producers. They’ll take a hit at some point.”
US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told The Washington Post last week, that the president has assured him farmers won’t be hurt in the negotiations. Perdue insisted, “I talked to the president as recently as last night. He said, ‘Sonny, you can assure your farmers out there that we’re not going to allow them to be the casualties if this trade dispute escalates. We’re going to take care of our American farmers. You can tell them that directly.'”
A survey conducted in March by Agri-Pulse found that 67 percent of the 750 Midwest farmers surveyed voted for Trump. But the president’s numbers took a dip among rural voters in a recent Reuters-Ipsos poll, where his approved fell from 68 percent to 55 percent between February 2017 and last month.