On Monday, President Trump finally admitted that the dramatically increased tariffs he recently imposed on imported goods will hurt American farmers.
“[China will] have to pay pretty high taxes to do business with our country, that’s a possibility,” Trump said at the White House on Monday afternoon. “But if we do a deal with China, if during the course of the negotiation they want to hit farmers because they think that hits me, I wouldn’t say that’s nice, but I will tell you our farmers are great patriots.”
The Trump administration proposed a series of aggressive tariffs on China last week — one of the largest markets for American farmers. China retaliated by proposing $50 billion in tariffs in response, after which Trump then ordered officials to investigate the possibility of yet another $100 billion in tariffs on China.
Farmers, whose profits have already hit a 12-year low, have been vocal in expressing concerns that Trump was threatening their way of life, with farm organizations describing the possible effects as “devastating.” Before Monday’s comments, Trump had insisted that farmers would not suffer any consequences as a result of a trade war with China.
Trump was quick to point out that the farming industry was already suffering, and promised to bring the industry back to historic heights, though he did not provide details for how he planned to do so.
“These are great patriots. They understand that they’re doing this for the country,” Trump continued. “And we’ll make it up to them. And in the end, they’re going to be much stronger than they are right now.”
“Don’t forget, farmers have been trending downward over an eight year period. Their numbers have trended downard in some cases significantly. So between NAFTA and China and all of the things we’re doing, we’re going to make them much better than they’ve ever been. But during this time… there will be a lot of work to be done. but the farmers will be better off than they ever were, it will take a little while to get there, but it could be very quick, actually.”
Trump’s comments adopted a markedly different tone from a tweet he sent just five days before, during which he jubilantly declared that the US “can’t lose” in a trade war with China.
When you’re already $500 Billion DOWN, you can’t lose!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 4, 2018
The Farm Bureau said in a statement that they continue to oppose tariffs, expressing their hope that Trump will back off.
“It’s our hope and expectation that both sides will eventually arrive at an agreement that does not include tariffs,” a spokesperson for the Bureau said. “Whatever happens, you can be certain our policy will support the interests of farmers nationwide.”
Full video of Trump’s comments can be seen here:
Trump doesn’t deny U.S. farmers could suffer from the trade war: “If during the course of the negotiation [with China] they want to hit farmers because they think that hits me, I wouldn't say that’s nice. But I will tell you our farmers are great patrons.” pic.twitter.com/78c9yroLqe
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) April 9, 2018
Nathan Wellman is a journalist from Los Angeles who has written for US Uncut and Grit Post. Follow him on Twitter: @LIGHTNINGWOW