* Michael Clements, with the National Association of Farm Broadcasting, contributed to this post.
America’s top agriculture official says tough times will likely continue in farm country, but the Administration and lawmakers can help alleviate some of the pain.
United States Secretary of Agriculture addressed lawmakers Tuesday at the House Agriculture Committee hearing: “The State of the Rural Economy.”
“The state of the rural economy is fragile,” Perdue said. “It obviously depends on some things that you all will struggle with in this environment – the budget – in this time period.”
Secretary Perdue adds a tight budget creates multiple challenges, especially boosting the farm safety net in a new farm bill. Perdue believes tough times will continue in farm country. He says adding trade disputes to the equation only further impacts farmers during such difficult times.
“We know that with the mention of China considering anti-dumping and countervailing duty taxes, the cash price on sorghum dropped over a dollar, 25%, yesterday,” Perdue said.
Perdue says the Administration will not waver in fighting against such unfair trade practices.
“We cannot be responsible for China’s reaction. The Administration knows that we have to prepared for that,” Perdue said.
Perdue notes agriculture is often the “tip of the spear” in retaliatory measures. However, Perdue remains optimistic – optimistic about trade, specifically the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
“We’ve got the Mexican elections coming up. We have one more round (of negotiations) which I believe will be extended. I think (if) we get Mexican politics out of the way, we’ll have a deal before the end of the year,” Perdue said.
Perdue also gains optimism about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) from President Trump. Trump recently said he would reconsider the United States rejoining the agreement if TPP countries agreed to adjust the agreement.