Congress Needs to Act to Protect Agriculture in Eastern Washington

Lisa Brown Campaign     Thursday, June 28, 2018

The threats to eastern Washington agriculture and manufacturing are escalating and our international trade position has become perilous in the last two weeks.

Following unilateral and poorly-conceived tariffs announced by the Trump administration, a number of trading partners – including allies – have announced or enacted severe retaliatory tariffs on U.S. products, including on wheat and pulse crops that are grown in eastern Washington.

Most notably, China responded to the administration announcing its own severe tariffs, including a tariff on U.S. wheat and soybeans. Add those to already-existing tariffs on other Washington-grown products, including India’s 50 percent tariffs on lentils and India and Mexico’s tariffs on apples, and Washington’s export economy has become severely threatened by the administration’s trade policy.

Last week, U.S. Wheat Associates and the National Association of Wheat Growers released a joint statement on the recent actions taken by the administration, which have made “an already risky business of agriculture even more volatile.” I agree wholeheartedly with their statement.

Congress needs to act, and eastern Washington’s representative needs to stand up to the administration for farmers in our district, before our agricultural economy is irreparably damaged. In the first week of June, Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) introduced a bipartisan bill along with other senators to curb the president’s ability to levy unilateral tariffs without approval by Congress, but it has yet to even receive a hearing.

With a viable, bipartisan solution on the table, it is not enough for my opponent to merely say that she’s advocated behind-the-scenes with policy advisors in the administration. There is action that Congress could take today.

Tariffs on U.S. exports impact every level of our economy, and we’re already seeing the economic results in our district. Just the other week, I met with a business owner in the district who sells harvest equipment to tree fruit growers in Washington. Even though there isn’t a large tree fruit industry in the 5th District, we have people who supply to them, and he said his business is already experiencing a downturn.

Congressional leadership needs to act before our growers, manufacturers, and farm equipment suppliers are further damaged by the administration’s escalating trade policies.

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