The trade war the Trump administration is involved in with China will result in "a little pain" for farmers, but ultimately, "a lot of good things are going to happen," President Donald Trump said in an interview with RFD-TV Tuesday.
RFD-TV's Sarah Mock posed a handful of questions to Trump in a nine-minute interview in which he said his administration's trade deal with Mexico would open up markets for farmers and "be far better than NAFTA." Trump also repeated statements he made about Canada's role in the NAFTA renegotiations. "Right now we're not letting anyone else in the deal because we want to make sure our farmers are properly taken care of," he said. "And if they’re not properly taken care of, then we’re not gonna do the deal."
Asked for his message to farmers "who are facing five years of declining prices, and now China is penalizing them even further,” Trump started by saying that soybean prices had been declining before he became president.
"When I ran, as you remember, if you’d go from Election Day five years back, take soybeans, it’s dropped in half," Trump said. "That had nothing to do with me. So, it came down." He then asserted that farmers had experienced "15 straight years in terms of decline," which does not square with the historical record for soybean or corn prices.
"I think the farmers are going to do fantastically well," he said. "We’re opening up markets that they’ve never had before."
But as he has in the past, Trump focused on the U.S. trade deficit with China. "We have a trade deficit with China the likes of which nobody’s ever conceived of before," he said. "It’ll be at least $375 billion. Somebody had to do something."
Trump did not answer directly when he was asked whether he would remove steel and aluminum tariffs on China and other countries, but touted the importance of steel and aluminum to the U.S.
"Steel has become one of the hottest industries," he said, before adding that "there’s only a small amount of farm products that are affected by the tariffs having to do with steel."
Referring to his administration's securing of an agreement to allow U.S. beef into China, Trump said, "I opened it up for cattle, I got that done for beef. A lot of good things are going to happen."
But he also cautioned that the dispute with China might not go away soon. "This doesn’t happen overnight," he said. "China's been hitting our country very, very hard, for many, many years … at least 25 years. They’ve been taking out billions and billions of dollars. The Chinese have said that they’re going to go after our farmers because I love the farmers and the farners love me – look at the vote."
Trump was non-committal in answer to a question about whether the administration will allow year-round use of E15 as sought by the ethanol industry (and opposed by the oil industry).
"I’ve been very loyal to ethanol," he said. "They’ve been terrific people. They backed me for Iowa. I’m going to be making some statements very soon." But he said the issue is "very complex, because as you take care of ethanol, something else gets hurt."
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