U.S. Wheat on Tariff Turmoil:
by Matthew Weaver
U.S. Wheat Associates Chairman Mike Miller, a Ritzville, Wash., farmer, says the wheat industry
is vulnerable to retaliation from overseas buyers. "We don't have a single gun in the fight."
U.S. Wheat Associates leaders say they are concerned about the impacts of U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum, which would hit "some of our closest allies and trading partners."
The U.S. Department of Commerce is also investigating imports of automobiles and parts, the value of which far exceeds steel and aluminum imports, and primarily affect major wheat export markets such as Mexico, Japan, the European Union and Canada, according to U.S. Wheat.
"The patience is starting to run out in the ag world," Mike Miller, U.S. Wheat chairman and a Ritzville, Wash., farmer, told the Capital Press.
U.S. Wheat is the overseas marketing arm of the industry.
"We're so vulnerable in regards to retaliation," Miller said. "We don't have a single gun in the fight. You can't say, 'No, you can't retaliate against wheat or pork or whatever.'"
Other U.S. Wheat leaders agree.
"It is dismaying to see that common sense has not yet prevailed in preventing these protectionist measures," said Vince Peterson, president of U.S. Wheat, in a press release.
U.S. Wheat spent decades in critical markets such as Mexico, Japan and Europe because the organization is committed to lasting trading relationships between overseas milling and processing sectors and U.S. farmers, Peterson said.
"If this administration isn't careful, decades of efforts by our farmers could be wasted," Peterson said.
Trump's "ambitious" bilateral trade agreement agenda -- "which was promised and which we all look forward to" -- may never get off the ground because no nation would be willing to take the political risks necessary to negotiate an agreement with the U.S., the organization said.
Miller cites slowing North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations, Chinese trade concerns, Trump's upcoming summit with North Korea, EU tariffs, Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations between the U.S. and the EU and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Japanese customers want the U.S. back in the TPP trade deal, from which Trump withdrew in January 2017.
The Japanese, however, have a plan to proceed without U.S. involvement, Miller said.
"That's pretty unnerving," he said.
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