Trump’s trade policies pose mixed bag for US rice farmers, LSU AgCenter says

President Donald Trump’s trade policies could have uneven results on the American rice industry, as rolling back regulations is expected to help farmers while tearing up trade agreements could mean new tariffs on American exports, the LSU AgCenter reports.

A USA Rice official spoke of the double-edged sword presented by the president’s policies at the annual joint meeting of the Louisiana Rice Council and Louisiana Rice Growers held earlier this week.

Betsy Ward, USA Rice president, told the group that Trump’s selection of former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue as agriculture secretary is a plus for Southern agriculture because Perdue favors a strong U.S. export market.

But trade agreements such as NAFTA, which Trump opposes and wants to renegotiate, has been favorable to strengthening the Mexican market for U.S. rice, Ward said.

Mexico is the No. 1 market for American rice, with as much as 88% coming from the U.S., the AgCenter reports.

But Mexico’s attitude toward the U.S. has chilled given Trump’s insistence that Mexico will pay for the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and his administration floated a 20% tariff on Mexican imports as an option to pay for the wall.

“They could turn around and drop the tariffs tomorrow in retaliation,” she said.

Mexico also has been exploring individual trade agreements with Pacific Rim countries since Trump signed an executive order withdrawing the U.S. from the Trans Pacific Partnership, Ward said.

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