Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried on Monday renewed attacks on President Donald Trump’s trade policies, citing new reports that China has halted imports of U.S. agricultural goods.
“This president is a disaster for American farmers. His tariffs have made our crops less competitive, his trade war has slashed our farmers’ exports, and his new trade agreement does nothing to protect Florida agriculture from Mexico’s illegally subsidized imports,” Fried, the state’s top elected Democrat, said in a statement, referring in part to a proposed agreement with Mexico and Canada.
Fried’s criticism came after Bloomberg News reported the Chinese government has asked state-owned enterprises to suspend purchases of U.S. agricultural products. Citing people familiar with the situation in China, Bloomberg reported China’s state-run agricultural firms have halted purchases of American farm goods and are waiting to see how talks between the two nations progress.
Prior to the Bloomberg report, Fried had blamed China’s 25 percent retaliatory tariffs for cutting Florida timber exports to China by 64 percent, lobster exports to China by 34 percent and crab exports to China by 79 percent.
Florida’s timber industry was also ravaged in October by Hurricane Michael. Fried has said that Russia and Brazil are among the nations that have stepped in to replace the state’s timber sales.
While attending a Jubilee Orchards event in Lake City last week, Fried also warned that the president’s trade deal with Canada and Mexico, which has been branded as the “United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement,” could cause $389 million in losses to Florida agriculture.
“If the president wants to put America first, then he needs to stop antagonizing our nation’s biggest trade partner and start helping our farmers compete in the global marketplace,” Fried said.