‘The Superpower of Food’ Needs Global Trade, U.S. Ag Secretary Says


By Mario Parker, Bloomberg

June 5, 2019


The U.S. government’s top agriculture official is having to admit that the free flow of products is crucial to America’s farmers while also defending his boss Donald Trump’s combative trade policies.


Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Wednesday classified the U.S. as “the superpower of food in the world,” and also said that farmers are dependent on international trade. He made the comments as Mexican officials traveled to the White House in a bid to negotiate a deal to avert President Trump’s plan to impose tariffs on the nation’s goods starting Monday.


The president’s May 30 threat -- to be carried out if Mexico doesn’t meet his immigration demands -- stirred angst among U.S. agricultural groups, with potentially $45 billion in food trade at stake. The Latin American nation is a top customer of pork, corn and wheat. The farm belt is also grappling with lower demand from China, another major buyer, as trade tensions escalate between Washington and Beijing.


Perdue’s role in reaching out to the farm community is crucial, given that America’s rural, agricultural base helped catapult Trump to the White House. Farmers have faced the brunt of retaliatory tariffs in Trump’s tit-for-tat trade war with China, with the latter placing duties on U.S.-grown products including soybeans.


In speaking on Wednesday from Newburg, Maryland, Perdue said he’s hopeful that the U.S. and Mexico can reach an accord...