Ag groups are largely supportive of the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade package, but many of those same groups say their biggest concern right now is ending retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agricultural products. Those duties were put in place after President Trump imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.
Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue told Reuters that, with a trade deal in hand with Mexico and Canada, the tariffs’ usefulness has diminished. “I think it’s time we go back to our previous relationship which had no tariffs on steel and aluminum,” Perdue adds. If that happens, it could mean USDA will scale back on the second installment of its trade aid program. “If the tariffs do come off and the tariff impact lessens, it will have some impact over the mitigation efforts because those efforts were based on the fact that they would be tariff damage-related,” said Perdue.
USDA has already made $6.3 billion available for direct payments to farmers, commodity purchases, and marketing assistance. The department was scheduled to decide on a possible second round of trade reimbursements by early December. The agency had initially budgeted up to $12 billion for the aid program.