In America, we are very good at growing crops. That makes us food secure, but it means more than that. We export much of our production, which generates thousands of jobs.
That’s why agriculture nervously awaits the reaction of other nations, especially China, to the U.S. decision raising tariffs on steel and aluminum.
To be sure, China has misbehaved in trade matters, but tariff retaliation will hurt us. China has announced tariffs on several agricultural products. Pork tops the list at 25 percent.
Exports of wine, fruits and nuts would face a 15 percent tariff. Jobs related to that are at risk.
The list so far does not include soybeans. We ship more than $12 billion of them to China. But the Chinese really need our soybeans for livestock feed.
If we manage to save 26,000 steel and aluminum jobs with tariffs, we might lose more than 31,000 agricultural jobs.
Farm income is about half of what it was five years ago. It’s a bad time for a trade war.