The National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council and the National Turkey Federation are three of the 18 boards that have appealed to the Trump administration, which is considering restrictions on imports of steel and aluminium.
The Commerce Department investigated steel and aluminium imports under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, citing a threat to national security. The investigation finished at the end of June, with a decision imminent on whether to impose restrictions or not.
The food industry is concerned that countries that export the materials to the US also import US food products.
In the letter, they said: “US agriculture is highly dependent on exports, which means it is particularly vulnerable to retaliation. Many countries that export steel to the United States are also large importers of US agriculture products. The potential for retaliation from these trading partners is very real. Short of explicit retaliation, these countries may also stall efforts to resolve current trade issues if they believe they have been unfairly targeted over legitimately traded products.”
It added: “US farmers rely on international commitments made by countries in the WTO and other trade agreements to keep markets open. The strength of that system is not guaranteed, and the United States has been a bulwark in maintaining it, to the benefit of US agriculture and many other industries. Undermining that system through an extraordinarily loose application of national security exceptions would be a shortsighted mistake. We urge the Department of Commerce to consider the consequences to the rest of the U.S. economy and avoid igniting a trade war through new restrictions on steel or aluminium trade.”
Numerous former chairs of the White House Council of Economic Advisors have also warned against steel and aluminium import restrictions.
Who has signed the letter?
American Farm Bureau Federation
American Soybean Association
National Association of Wheat Growers
National Barley Growers Association
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association
National Corn Growers Association
National Council of Farmer Cooperatives
National Milk Producers Federation
National Pork Producers Council
National Sunflower Association
National Turkey Federation
US Apple Association
US Canola Association
US Dry Bean Council
US Wheat Associates
US Grains Council
USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council
USA Rice Federation