Possible trade war with China has Tenn. farmers worried

Mar 26, 2018

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  China's government said Monday it’s open to negotiating with Washington amid a spiraling tariff dispute and Tennessee farmers are hoping President Trump will accept.

On Friday China announced a $3 billion list of U.S. goods targeted for possible retaliation for President Donald Trump's tariff hike on steel and aluminum imports. Many of those goods come from the Ag sector.

Credit WMOT

Farm Bureau spokesman Lee Maddox notes that China is Tennessee’s second largest agricultural trading partner. He says the state’s farmers are deeply worried their exports to China could be put at risk.

Maddox says the uncertainty surrounding tariff targets and a possible trade war couldn’t come at a worse time for Volunteer State farmers.

“Farmers are hurting right now. Their income has fallen by about 50 percent over the last four years. So the threat and the talks of these… of what China’s retaliation might be couldn’t come at a worse time.”

Farmers have generally been supportive of President Trump and Maddox says the Farm Bureau has received reassurances from what he describes as “high ranking members” of the Trump Administration.

“They said that agriculture will come out on the other side of this better than we were before, so there’s no doubt we’re going to be watching and hopefully holding them to their word.”

Maddox says Tennessee farmers traditionally feel upbeat and positive in the spring as they prepare to put a crop in the ground. He’s hoping that mood won’t be dampened by a trade conflict with China.