The U.S. government’s top agriculture official is having to admit that the free flow of products is crucial to America’s farmers while also defending his boss Donald Trump’s combative trade policies.
Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Wednesday classified the U.S. as “the superpower of food in the world,” and also said that farmers are dependent on international trade. He made the comments as Mexican officials traveled to the White House in a bid to negotiate a deal to avert President Trump’s plan to impose tariffs on the nation’s goods starting Monday.
The president’s May 30 threat — to be carried out if Mexico doesn’t meet his immigration demands — stirred angst among U.S. agricultural groups, with potentially $45 billion in food trade at stake. The Latin American nation is a top customer of pork, corn and wheat. The farm belt is also grappling with lower demand from China, another major buyer, as trade tensions escalate between Washington and Beijing.
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