Trump’s China deal, USMCA relieve Iowa farmers rocked by trade war

Iowa’s farmers were among the biggest casualties of the U.S.-China trade war, but President Trump’s historic trade agreement has them confident of a comeback. The phase one deal comes on top of trade pacts his administration has negotiated with Canada, Mexico and Japan. Those four countries are the biggest buyers of U.S. agriculture, purchasing more than $62 billion of products in 2018. “You’re going to have to get bigger tractors and a hell of a lot more land,” Trump said at a rally in Des Moines, Iowa, on Thursday, just days before the state’s caucuses to choose a Democratic candidate for president. A battleground state, Iowa gave its six electoral votes to Trump in 2016, and the state is important to his re-election bid this year. Its economy had been humming along before the outbreak of the trade war, growing at 5.4 percent and 4.2 percent in the first two quarters of 2018, before Trump imposed his first set of tariffs on Chinese goods on July 6. China responded by putting its own levies on U.S. goods, including soybeans. The nation had bought $12.5 billion of U.S. soybeans the year before, and Iowa was the largest producer, growing 562 million bushels, or about 22 percent of nation’s output. The state’s economy decelerated sharply as the tit-for-tat trade war escalated, growing just 1 percent in the third quarter before contracting 2 percent in the final three months of the year. It returned to growth in 2019, expanding at 2 percent, 1.1 percent and 1.3 percent in the first three quarters of the year. Trump responded to the trade war’s toll with two aid packages, totaling $28 billion, to help cushion the blow to U.S. farmers, whom he publicly praised. “What President Trump has done had to be done,” Roy Bardole, president of the Iowa Soybean Association, said…

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