ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU)- Today is the day China imposes tariffs on many U.S. products because of our tariffs on their steel and aluminum shipments to the U.S. And many agricultural products are the targets of those tariffs as the Chinese hope to hurt President Trump in farm country which is given a lot of the credit for his election in 2016. As of today the Chinese are cancelling orders for over 1 million metric tons of U.S. soybeans as well as putting higher tariffs on U.S. pork that are expected to cost the U.S. hog industry about $150 million in lost sales this year. As of today the total Chinese tariffs on U.S. pork imports will amount to 78% making our products 48% more expensive in China than for any other country that sells pork products to China. According to the U.S. Meat Export Federation, that could mean a loss of $9 per head for American hog producers.
When talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement get re-started, Mexico will have a new chief negotiator. His name is Jesus Seade who said he and Mexico's new president support what Mexico has done in the talks so far. Seade also said he has some new ideas that could improve the deal for the U.S. without hurting Mexico. Those ideas he said are focused mainly on the auto industry issues in the talks that relate to wages for workers and the percent of car parts that have to originate in North America. He also said if the U.S. imposes tariffs on cars and trucks from Mexico he would lean toward retaliation and he said "corn seems to be a good place to start."
Are we in or are we out? That's the latest trade question as far as U.S. membership in the World Trade organization. President Trump has said he might get out of WTO unless they start treating the U.S. more fairly in trade decisions. Reports also say White House staff has drafted a bill that would let the president work around the Congress and the WTO that would give him the power to impose tariffs at different levels for different countries without any oversight from either of those 2 groups. But observers say a bill giving the president sole power to get out of the WTO or impose tariffs on his own has no chance of passing in Congress since members from both parties are getting more and more frustrated with his trade policies which they feel could cost them votes in the fall elections.
But not all of our ag products are facing tariffs. Dairy products being exported through the Cooperatives Working Together program continue to move. This week that program is exporting almost 1.2 million pounds of Cheddar cheese and about 5.7 million pounds of whole milk powder to buyers in Asia, the Middle East and South America. So far this year that program has helped export over 40 million pounds of U.S. cheese, more than 11 million pounds of butter and 16 million pounds of whole milk powder to customers in 28 countries on 5 continents.
Embattled EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned from that position yesterday. During his time in office, Pruitt has done things farmers both like and dislike. His most positive action, as far as farm country is concerned was his formal proposal just last Friday to do away with the Obama Administration's Waters of the USA rule.. But he also frustrated farmers with his actions on the Renewable Fuels Standards regarding biofuels as well as his granting of waivers to refiners so they could get out of blending ethanol into the gasoline supply, amounting to about 1 and a half billion gallons of ethanol not being used for the past couple of years. His top assistant Andrew Wheeler will take over at EPA today as acting Administrator.