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U.S. farmers may need more during election season

Christian Fernsby |
Farmers may need a third round of government aid next year if political in-fighting during the 2020 U.S. election cycle prevents the Trump administration from landing trade deals and reopening top export markets, the head of the largest U.S. farm lobby said.

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If the U.S. Congress cannot ratify the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), then it and the Trump administration could find it difficult to finalize any trade deals with other large markets, including the European Union and Japan, American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said.

Farmers have struggled to stay afloat this year as top U.S. soybean buyer China curtails purchases. They are counting on other markets like Mexico and Europe to buy their agricultural goods.

“The deeper we get into this campaign season, the more difficult it might become” to get USMCA ratified or any trade deals done, Duvall said in an interview.

“Not because of the treaty itself, not because of the need itself, but just because of the rhetoric around the election,” Duvall said.

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump, a Republican, formally kicked off his re-election bid and tweeted that the United States and China would restart trade talks. Trump said he would meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit later this month, and that talks between the two countries would restart after a long lull.

Duvall said the Farm Bureau is growing concerned that U.S. farmers could potentially enter a third year with restricted access to key export markets at a time when the farm economy has been battered by low crop prices and is battling flood damage across the Midwest.

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