WASHINGTON D.C. (CNN) — White House trade adviser Peter Navarro defended President Donald Trump's commitment to American farmers on Sunday, as some farmers say the US trade war with China directly hurts them.
"This President has the backs of farmers," Navarro told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union." He said "a lot" of the money the US is taking in from tariffs is "going right to the farmers."
American farmers are showing nervousness about the US-China trade war, including postponing buying tractors and other equipment.
Deere, the agricultural equipment company, reported earnings and sales that missed Wall Street forecasts Friday. Overall revenue fell 3% from a year ago. The results "reflected the high degree of uncertainty that continues to overshadow the agricultural sector," said Samuel Allen, Deere's CEO, in a statement.
The Trump administration is expected to begin paying $14.5 billion to farmers hurt by the US-China trade war by the end of August — the second round of aid the administration will pay out as negotiations with Beijing continue past the one-year mark. Farmers, hit hard by China's retaliatory tariffs put on a range of commodities including soybeans, corn and wheat, received about $10 billion in aid last year.
Gary Wertish, the president of the Minnesota Farmers Union, recently told CNN, "Words and twitters and tweets — that doesn't pay the farmers' bills. That doesn't solve the problem we're dealing with."
"This one's self-inflicted by our President, and we definitely agreed with him at the beginning, but it doesn't appear that there's a plan B," Wertish said.
Lindsay Greiner, the president of the Iowa Soybean Association, has said that government subsidies are a "poor remedy for trade."
"Short-term, stair-stepped subsidies are a poor remedy for trade. They stimulate production but not sales and therefore do little to undo the long-term log jam caused by not selling soybeans to destinations like China, the world's No. 1 customer," Greiner said in a statement in May.
Navarro was adamant on "State of the Union" Sunday, telling Tapper that farmers "are behind this President." And Navarro insisted the tariffs are "not hurting anybody" in the US — "They're hurting China," he said.
Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg weighed in on the US-China trade war, telling Tapper in an exclusive interview Sunday that "American farmers are getting killed."
The South Bend, Indiana, mayor said he just spoke to farmers in Iowa who supported the President who "are now asking the question how much longer are we supposed to take one for the team?"
He said Trump has failed to deliver a deal, "and in the meantime, we're paying the costs of these tariffs." Buttigieg said "there is clearly no strategy" for the trade war that will benefit American farmers and consumers.
The comments from Navarro and Buttigieg come as fears of a brewing global recession were renewed last week. Five of the world's biggest economies are now at risk of a recession, and a week of whiplash on Wall Street spiked fears the US economy could be dragged down too.
The US economy, for now, remains on solid ground. Since Trump has taken office the stock market has reached record highs and unemployment has stayed at a historic low. But any number of factors could set off a US downturn, including Trump's trade policy, a weakening global economy, the waning effects of the 2017 tax cuts, or even a risk of deflation.
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