The announcement of a preliminary trade agreement between the U.S. and Japan is good news for Illinois farmers, but some are concerned Congress will be log jammed with impeachment talk.
The Japan deal is the latest trade deal President Donald Trump’s administration has queued up.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said “Japan has committed to provide substantial market access to American food and agricultural products by eliminating tariffs, enacting meaningful tariff reductions, or allowing a specific quantity of imports at a low duty (generally zero). ”
Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert said that could be $7 billion of trade deals for U.S. agriculture. Then there’s the U.S. Mexico Canada trade agreement (USMCA) that are pending in Congress.
“This is a good sign that we can move forward and get our trade and exports back on the road to success,” Guebert said.
There’s also the announcement from Gov. J.B. Pritzker that $2.2 billion of Illinois corn and soybeans will be sold to Taiwan over two years starting in 2021.
But the Japan deal and the USMCA still have to be approved by Congress.
“There’s a lot of anxiety and frustration out there in the ag community,” U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Peoria, said. “We need a win when it comes to trade. We’re suffering under the trade war with China because we’re not allowed to sell our soybeans and products to China, which is a huge market.”
LaHood said impeachment talk has taken up all the oxygen in Washington.
“And [U.S. House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi needs to put aside partisan politics and instead of being worried about giving the president a win, let’s worry about giving the American worker a win,” LaHood said. “And this will help the workers and it will help the economy here. ”
Pelosi, D-California, said Thursday that the party is “hoping to be on a continuing path to yes” on the USMCA, but no timeline was given for a vote.
Guebert said he worried impeachment politics will derail things.
“I’m very concerned that things don’t get stalled out here with other things,” Guebert said. “The government keeps going. Bills still have to be paid.”