U.S. farmers have raised an outcry against Washington's latest move to increase tariffs on Chinese imports, warning of serious consequences for U.S. farms and families as the trade tensions drag on.
Washington on Friday increased additional tariffs on 200 billion U.S. dollars' worth of Chinese imports from 10 percent to 25 percent, a move Beijing said it deeply regrets and will be forced to respond to with necessary countermeasures.
In a joint statement, the U.S. National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG), the American Soybean Association (ASA) and the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) said farmers across the United States "are extremely concerned by the actions taken today" by the U.S. government.
The three commodities, according to the associations, represent around 171 million acres of farmland in the United States.
"U.S. wheat growers are facing tough times right now, and these additional tariffs will continue to put a strain on our export markets and threaten many decades worth of market development," said Ben Scholz, NAWG president and a wheat farmer in Texas.
Davie Stephens, ASA president and a soy grower from Kentucky, urged the U.S. government to hear them and believe what soy farmers are saying about "the real-life consequences to our farms and families as this trade war drags on."
"Adding to current problems, it took us more than 40 years to develop the China soy market. For most of us in farming, that is two thirds of our lives. If we don't get this trade deal sorted out and the tariffs rescinded soon, those of us who worked to build this market likely won't see it recover in our lifetime," he added.
On behalf of U.S. corn farmers, NCGA President Lynn Chrisp said they are watching commodity prices decline amid ongoing tariff threats, even while many cannot get to spring planting because of wet weather.
He argued that the ripple effects of Washington's tariff measures are causing harm to U.S. farmers and rural communities.
"Farmers have been patient and willing to let negotiations play out, but with each passing day, patience is wearing thin. Agriculture needs certainty, not more tariffs," he added.
All the tariff moves, stressed the three agricultural associations, "are having a compounding impact not only on agriculture but all industries across the United States."
China has repeatedly stressed that slapping additional tariffs is no solution to the problems, and the only right way forward is cooperation and consultation based on respect of each other's core concerns.