The U.S.-China tariff war is pushing farmers out of the business, according to U.S. Dairy Export Council President and CEO Tom Vilsack.
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The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that nearly 3,000 dairy farms quit the business in 2018.
“There are a multitude of reasons, but obviously the tariffs is one reason. We need to continue to focus on domestic consumption as well and we need to take a look at how we essentially price our milk products to be able to make sure that farmers get a decent return,” he told FOX Business' Liz Claman on "The Claman Countdown."
Last Sunday, the United States placed a 15 percent tariff on approximately $112 billion of Chinese goods. The U.S. Dairy Export Council visited Chinese officials last Friday to try to preserve their relationship with China after the new tariffs went into effect.
“We tried to convey to them the relationship between our two dairy industries, the U.S. and China industry, is an important one to maintain …So we offered some help in terms of their pork industry that’s been decimated by African swine fever,” he said.
Vilsack hopes that helping to rebuild China’s hog industry will give China the incentive to help his industry avoid retaliatory tariffs.
“We’re going to follow this up with letters to the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Finance and Commerce in the hopes they take us up on the offer and look for opportunities to potentially work through and around the retaliatory tariffs,” he said.
Vilsack also explained why the ratification of the USMCA trade agreement will help U.S. farmers.
“They can’t wait for the ratification of that agreement because it’s going to open up opportunities for us in Canada, it’s going to preserve our market in Mexico,” he said.