President Donald Trump said Wednesday he’s planning on leaving U.S. tariffs on Chinese products in place “for a substantial period of time,” even after some form of deal is reached with China.

Trump’s comments are shaking the U.S. ag sector, which has been counting on a deal to put an end to tariffs China placed on American ag goods as a retaliatory measure.

Trump, who recently said he appealed to Chinese President Xi Jinping to lift Chinese retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agriculture commodities, said he wants to leave the U.S. tariffs in placebecause we have to make sure that if we do the deal with China, that China lives by the deal. Because they've had a lot of problems living by certain deals and we have to make sure.” 

But leaving those tariffs in place is exactly what the U.S. agriculture sector is asking Trump not to do.

Fifty-nine U.S. farm groups sent a letter Tuesday to Trump, pleading with him to lift the tariffs.

Agri-Pulse viewed a copy of the letter that was signed by groups such as the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Cotton Council, U.S. Apple Association, National Pork Producers Council, National Milk Producers Federation, North American Meat Institute and U.S. Wheat Associates.

The groups stressed that America’s farmers and ranchers continue to suffer, “and failing to lift these tariffs could negate any positive gains resulting from a new trade arrangement with China. American products are rapidly losing their earned market share to our competitors, underscoring the need for an urgent resolution.”

The fear is that if the U.S. does not lift its tariffs on China, then China will not lift its retaliatory tariffs that have crippled exports to one of the largest foreign markets for U.S. farmers and ranchers, officials from two of the groups who signed the letter told Agri-Pulse.

The umbrella group Tariffs Hurt the Heartland put out a statement in reaction to Trump’s comments Wednesday: “The President’s statement that tariffs will stay in place for a ‘substantial period of time’ is deeply concerning to the American farmers, businesses and consumers that are actually paying for this trade war.”

But Trump stressed to reporters the U.S. is “getting along with China very well” and the negotiations are “coming along nicely.” He also said that he’s sending top U.S. negotiators back to Beijing for more face-to-face talks this weekend.

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