As President Donald Trump’s trade war with China — complicated by his insistence this week that Beijing is trying to influence the upcoming midterm elections — intensifies, farmers in Washington State are growing restless.
The trade dispute that has been costing farmers billions escalated this week as China retaliated for the latest tariffs imposed by the Trump Administration.
But Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, whose Eastern Washington district is heavily dependent on agricultural trade, has not abandoned the Trump plan to push China to the brink while her constituents watch and wait.
“We get him elected into office and he pulls us out of trade agreements,” one of Rodgers’ constituents, wheat farmer Roy Dube, told The Associated Press last week at an event to hear McMorris Rodgers’ opponent, Democrat Lisa Brown. “I’m concerned that Cathy McMorris Rodgers didn’t put up more resistance.”
The Wall Street Journal, citing data from the Commerce Department, reported Thursday that retaliatory tariffs from China could hit U.S. farmers by $408 million while Mexico’s targeted as much as $578 million in dairy goods.
McMorris Rodgers, the third-ranking Republican in the House as chairwoman of the Republican Conference, has only mildly criticized Trump’s trade agenda, which Dube said has driven Chinese buyers to Australia and Canada.
She has also resisted calls for her to use her influence to rein-in Trump’s trade war — and she has in part praised Trump for these disputes.
In September, she said Trump was taking action against “bad actors” but said she favored moving from tariffs to an agreement. However, at a candidate forum last month, she went as far as to say she was “proud” that Trump — who has declared that “trade wars are good, and easy to win” — was putting tariffs on China.
“We need trade agreements, but I’m also proud that this president is taking action on China on their practices right now. America, we’re the innovators, but China’s been copying our innovation and selling it back to us,” she said.