In a letter to President Trump Friday, Rep. Kristi Noem led 46 members of the U.S. House in outlining key priorities for agriculture when it comes to trade with China.

“We must continue to build on the success that’s come from historic tax cuts and regulatory rollbacks under the Trump administration,” said Noem. “China’s irresponsible countermeasures threaten to undermine our achievements for South Dakota agriculture. I stand firmly with President Trump in his effort to hold China accountable for its dishonest trade practices, but I urge the administration to do so in a way that avoids harmful Chinese countermeasures against American agriculture. This will help us put agriculture back on the road to prosperity.”

The letter comes after China announced significantly higher tariffs, impacting all five of South Dakota’s top five agriculture products: beef, corn, soybeans, wheat, and hogs. The nation’s eleventh largest ag exporting state, South Dakota exported $3.7 billion in agricultural goods in 2015.

FULL LETTER:

Dear Mr. President,

It is no secret that some of your strongest support comes from communities that rely on agriculture for survival. As representatives of districts with a heavy agriculture presence, we have been pleased about so much of your administration’s work related to agriculture. Your leadership and your administration have been vital in providing much-needed relief to Farm Country, from leading the charge on fundamental tax reform to your administration’s U.S.-China 100-Day Action plan securing access for U.S. beef producers to the Chinese market for the first time since 2003. We strongly support your efforts to open China to U.S. agriculture and to take strong steps to end China’s unfair trade practices and other cheating.

All our hard-won gains in Farm Country, however, are at serious risk of being wiped away because China is threatening retaliation against American farmers. We appreciate your commitment to stand by U.S. farmers and ranchers in the face of these outrageous threats.

We’ve seen many recent examples of China’s extraordinary threats to our agriculture community. On January 22, the United States Trade Representative announced safeguard tariffs on imported residential washing machines and solar cells and modules. Less than two weeks later, China launched a baseless antidumping and countervailing duty investigation on sorghum imports from the United States. This retaliatory measure is severe, given that a full 77 percent of U.S. sorghum exports are sold to China, with a value of $1 billion.

Similarly, on March 22, you approved tariffs on imported steel and aluminum under Section 232. That very day, China again took retaliatory measures against America’s agriculture exports, proposing tariffs of 15 percent on agricultural goods such as apples, nuts, ethanol, and wine, and a 25 percent tariff on U.S. pork exports. With U.S. pork exports worth $1.1 billion last year, this reprisal will substantially damage a very important industry.

Most recently, less than 11 hours following the announcement of the Administration’s proposed Section 301 product list, China countered with proposed 25 percent tariffs on agricultural goods such as soybeans, corn, frozen orange juice, wheat, and beef. Soybean exports are worth $14 billion to an agriculture economy already enduring historically tough times.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said recently that farmers are the “tip of the spear when it comes to retaliatory measures” and you have acknowledged that farmers are “great patriots.” Our farmers and ranchers are resilient, but they are already struggling with low commodity prices and drought. With net farm income down by half over the last four years, and no relief on the horizon, they are particularly vulnerable.

Accordingly, we appreciate your support for farmers and ranchers in the face of Chinese retaliation, and we encourage the Administration to work diligently in its negotiations with China to address China’s trade practices in a manner that will avoid retaliation, helping to return our agriculture industry to a state of certainty and back on the road to prosperity.

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