U.S. Senator Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, says he’s been “very concerned” about America’s trade strategy. During the Missouri Farm Bureau Convention this week at the Lake of the Ozarks, the Republican says he’s glad the U.S. did not escalate its trade fight with China.

Senator Roy Blunt addresses the Missouri House on April 4, 2018 (file photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at House Communications)

He cites U.S. soybean exports have gone to virtually zero since the trade war began.

“Our opportunities in beef, pork, chicken and other commodity crops are not what they would be,” Blunt tells Brownfield Ag News. “At the same time, the Chinese are the worst offenders in the world of the normal understood practices of how you do business.”

He says China steals America’s technology and does not fulfill its World Trade Organization agreements. He goes on to say that China does not let U.S. companies invest in China the same way China likes to see their companies invest in other countries.

“I think if you’re going to have a trade fight, that would be the one to have,” Blunt says.

He says he hopes a Trump Administration priority will be to “clear the decks” of trading partners in Mexico, Canada, Japan, the European Union.

Blunt thinks getting enough Democratic support in the House is going to be “a fairly big challenge” for the new North American Free Trade Agreement often called NAFTA. Blunt goes on to say that he’s encouraged to see the deal signed between the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

One argument voiced is that the agreement does not go far enough to protect American workers from low-wage Mexican competition. The new deal does not lift the tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum.

“I wish we could have gotten this done this year,” Blunt says. “The president’s intention, which I have some concerns about, is to go ahead and give notice that the old agreement is going to end, which does put maximum pressure on people who understand the importance of this North American agreement to our whole economy. But our friends on the other side have not voted for trade deals in any significant number in a long time.”

Meanwhile, Blunt thinks the federal Farm Bill will pass in Congress this year. He says the bill does not move dramatically in a new direction, but it considers the dramatic changes made in the last Farm Bill.

“It tries to make the corrections in cotton, dairy and other areas that it became pretty obvious during that Farm Bill that we hadn’t quite anticipated as a country some of the special needs,” he says.

The compromise bill would keep food stamp benefit requirements the same, legalize hemp for ag production and expand a program for taking environmentally- sensitive land out of production for several years, among other things.

The Farm Bureau Convention wrapped up on Tuesday.

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