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Vilsack Urges Toning Down Anti-China Rhetoric, Citing Farm Exports

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack suggests the U.S. needs to tone down its anti-China rhetoric or else billions in U.S. farm exports to China could be on the chopping block… From TikTok to China’s spy balloon to its hacking and aggression in the Pacific, U.S. officials and lawmakers have pushed back against Beijing for months.

But Secretary Tom Vilsack said at an Agri-Pulse forum the criticism may be getting out of hand. He said, “We have an interesting conversation going on in this country about China. It’s pretty hard for the Chinese – and this was expressed to me when I met with the Chinese Ag minister – it’s pretty hard for them to understand that they’re the number one Ag customer for U.S. products. That’s not how you would see it based on the rhetoric that we see today.”

Vilsack urged a “nuanced and thoughtful conversation about China.” Otherwise, he said the U.S. could jeopardize its nearly 40-billion-dollar farm export trade with Beijing, which fell to $29 billion last year. But Iowa Senator and former chair of the Finance Committee that covers trade Chuck Grassley thinks Vilsack is only “half right”.

Grassley says, “I think you have to be kind of careful how you talk to China, but I think we’ve been too easy on them, and I think China could retaliate against our Ag exports to them. But if they do buy more from Argentina and Brazil, there’s going to be opportunities for us to fill the void of where that grain would have otherwise gone.”

Grassley says China will always need to import enough food to feed its people. But when it comes to U.S. national security versus farm exports, Grassley feels the U.S. must ‘stand up to China.’

Story courtesy of NAFB News Service and Matt Kaye, Berns Bureau Washington

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