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First State farmers worry about rising trade tensions with China

Delaware Public Media

First State farmers are concerned about a rise in trade tensions between the U.S. and China.

The trade war between the U.S. and China recently escalated, with President Donald Trump announcing more tariffs and China devaluing its currency. China is suspending agricultural purchases from the U.S. in response to last week’s announcement.

Delaware Secretary of Agriculture Michael Scuse said First State farmers are being hit twice by tariffs. They’re getting less for the crops they grow and they’re paying more for equipment because of the steel and aluminum taxes.

And Scuse said he’s hearing from Delaware farmers about the trade escalation.

“One farmer told me not too long ago ‘Enough is enough, something’s gotta give,’" he said. "And I think that’s the general feeling.”

Delaware’s senior Sen. Tom Carper said local farmers need access to China’s market to stay in business and make a profit.

“They’re our biggest market for soybeans and other commodities," he said. "It’s a killer, it is a killer for us.”

Carper adds the Delmarva Peninsula’s biggest commodities are soybeans, corn and chickens.

Scuse said some farmers support President Trump’s stand against China’s unfair trade practices. But he adds that China can turn to other countries for soybean and other commodities as it waits out the current administration.

The Trump administration is set to start distributing $14.5 billion in payments to farmers this month to compensate for retaliatory tariffs by China and other counties.

It’s also spending more than $1 billion buying commodities for food banks and on trade promotion.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture starts giving payments this month to farmers hit by the trade wars with China and other countries. But Scuse said the payments won’t be able to fully compensate them for all of their losses.

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