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Our view: $12 billion in aid: Lawmakers, others react

Herald editorial board Following is a roundup of reactions from Republicans and Democrats after President Donald Trump announced a $12 billion aid package to farmers affected by the United States' trade war with China and other nations. The comme...

Herald editorial board

Following is a roundup of reactions from Republicans and Democrats after President Donald Trump announced a $12 billion aid package to farmers affected by the United States' trade war with China and other nations.

The comments that follow were taken from various press releases, Forum News Service reporting and, in cases where noted, other media sources:

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.: "The goal of the administration we believe is to gain greater access to markets on a fair basis for our farmers and ranchers. But because agriculture has a positive balance of trade, our producers are heavily impacted by retaliatory tariffs. That is why we are willing to work with USDA on a short term program to provide our producers with temporary relief as the administration continues its trade negotiations. At the same time however, we continue to press the administration to get better, more fair trade deals in place as soon as possible so that farmers can continue to do what they do best - provide our country and the world with the highest-quality, lowest cost food supply in the world."

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.: "This is $12 billion that we are borrowing. We don't have $12 billion sitting around. We already have a huge deficit problem in this country. (Producers) want to trade. They want to sell their products. They don't want to just get a check from the government."

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Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D.: "I am thankful our farmers and ranchers are now getting some specifics at my suggestion, but sad China continues to act in bad faith and thereby necessitates these extraordinary measures. At the end of the day we want trade not aid. I hope free fair and reciprocal trade is in our near future and look forward to more details as they roll out."

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. (quoted in the Star Tribune): "Another way to deal with this was to keep negotiating. We expected a lot of pushing at China. But the [trade] issues we've created with allies like Canada are problematic."

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.: "Taxpayers are going to be asked to initial checks to farmers in lieu of having a trade policy that actually opens and expands more markets. There isn't anything about this that anybody should like."

House Ag Committee Chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas: "Our president stood up to a bully and now he's standing up for rural America. This is the right fight to have, but in the meantime, our producers have got to live, while this fight's going on."

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb.: "This trade war is cutting the legs out from under farmers and White House's 'plan' is to spend $12 billion on gold crutches. America's farmers don't want to be paid to lose - they want to win by feeding the world. This administration's tariffs and bailouts aren't going to make America great again, they're just going to make it 1929 again."

Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D. (quoted by KELO-TV): "We're facing a situation where our farmers have had four to five years of really bad commodity markets and prices, and that's because of not getting treated fairly in our agreements that we have with other countries as far as marketing our goods to them. So the fact that we're now in this trade war at this current moment, is really coming at a critical time for our farmers. So this package is helpful. I don't think it's the only thing that can be done. We need to continue to go after new markets."

Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Ala.: "The actions and funding announced demonstrate that the president has not forgotten the American farmer and that agricultural producers will not bear the brunt of unjustified retaliation by foreign governments ... I applaud President Trump for standing-up to China and other foreign government's unfair trade practices. If our markets here are open to their goods then their markets should be open for American agriculture and manufacturing."

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis.: "This is becoming more and more like a Soviet-type of economy here: Commissars deciding who's going to be granted waivers, commissars in the administration figuring out how they're going to sprinkle around benefits. [...] I'm very exasperated. This is serious."

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Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y.: "By imposing tariffs on nations like China, President Trump is working to level the playing field between the United States and other countries that have taken advantage of us for far too long. From the start, we were assured that the administration would take appropriate action to protect industries, like our nation's agriculture industry, that may be impacted by the tariffs. Today's announcement is a win for the dairy industry as President Trump continues to put American interests first and fight for fair trade deals."

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.: "This is what we feared all along, that these markets would be replaced by handouts. ... You lose some of these markets, you lose them for good or a long time."

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue: "This is a short-term solution to allow President Trump time to work on long-term trade deals to benefit agriculture and the entire U.S. economy. The president promised to have the back of every American farmer and rancher, and he knows the importance of keeping our rural economy strong. Unfortunately, America's hard-working agricultural producers have been treated unfairly by China's illegal trading practices and have taken a disproportionate hit when it comes illegal retaliatory tariffs. USDA will not stand by while our hard-working agricultural producers bear the brunt of unfriendly tariffs enacted by foreign nations. The programs we are announcing today help ensure our nation's agriculture continues to feed the world and innovate to meet the demand."

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.: "So, you create a policy that causes people to need to be on welfare and then you provide the welfare. [...] "It would be much better to just reverse the policy that's creating this."

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer: "President Trump is taking strong action, as he promised, to make sure America's farmers and ranchers are not left to bear the brunt of illegal retaliation by China and other countries. The Trump Administration will continue to defend our economy from unfair trading practices and work to advance free, fair and reciprocal trade relationships."

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., chairman of Senate Ag Committee: "I think the agriculture community has made it clear. [...] They much prefer trade rather than aid."

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall: "The $12 billion package of agricultural assistance announced by the administration will provide a welcome measure of temporary relief to our farmers and ranchers who are experiencing the financial effects of the trade war ... We are grateful for the administration's recognition that farmers and ranchers needed positive news now and this will buy us some time."

National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson: "Market prices for farm products are plunging from already very low levels, and it's been estimated that farmers lost more than $13 billion last month alone due to trade disruptions. While we appreciate the move to provide stopgap assistance, this plan is a short-term fix to a long-term problem. The administration must develop a support mechanism that will mitigate the significant damage that is being inflicted upon our most vital international markets for years to come. They should do this by working with Congress to ensure farm bill programs provide enough assistance to farmers when markets collapse."

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American Soybean Association President John Heisdorffer: "U.S. soybean producers want to see President Trump succeed in meeting his trade campaign goals of achieving better trade deals and greater market access. And, we appreciate that he has recognized our loss in exports and lower prices and provided some immediate relief."

Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo.: "This solution is as insane as the policy that got us into this mess. Our farmers and ranchers want to compete and grow in the global economy. The president's incoherent trade policy continues to lead to missed opportunities. President Trump cannot fix this self-inflicted crisis with a $12 billion slush fund."

National Pork Producers Council President Jim Heimerl: "President Trump has said he has the back of U.S. farmers and today demonstrated this commitment with an aid package to sustain American agriculture cutoff from critical export markets as his administration works to realign U.S. global trade policy."

National Cotton Council Chairman Ron Craft: "We support the administration for taking this interim action to help at least partially offset impacts until better trade relationships can be restored and improved ... Our industry thanks Agriculture Secretary Perdue for exercising his authority to provide this much needed relief."

National Milk Producers Federation President and CEO Jim Mulhern: "We appreciate the president following through on his pledge that America's farmers won't bear the brunt of the economic losses generated by the current trade conflicts. Today's announcement reflects requests that our organization has made of USDA to relieve some of the financial pain dairy farmers are feeling due to lost export opportunities. We thank the administration for incorporating our recommendations."

National Sorghum Producers Legislative Committee Chairman Dan Atkisson: "National Sorghum Producers appreciates the hard work USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue and U.S. officials have done to advocate on behalf of farmers through ongoing trade disputes. We respect the Administration for following through with their promise to stand by U.S. farmers, and we look forward to working with Secretary Perdue in providing much needed funds to sorghum farmers and other producers impacted by tariffs. NSP fully supports fairer and open trade and will continue to work with officials to achieve long-term trade solutions."

Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen: "We appreciate the administration's actions to help farmers who are indeed suffering as a result of recent trade disputes. Farmers are the backbone of this country who provide feed, food and fuel to consumers across our nation."

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