Washington (CNN) Republican Sen. Joni Ernst said Sunday that the US-China trade war is “hurtful” to farmers, a group that makes up a considerable portion of her Iowa constituency.
“But as we have heard from our farmers, they do want us to find a path forward with China. The tariffs are hurtful right now, but the President will continue negotiating. We hope that we can get a deal soon,” Ernst told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union.”
“This is a really difficult situation that the farmers are in. Just to remind the viewers that one in five jobs in Iowa is tied directly to trade. Most of that is around the farming sector, our agricultural sector. So it is very tense times,” Ernst said.
The senator added that while she would like to see a trade deal between the two countries reached in the coming months, she “doesn’t see that happening this summer.”
“The President has asked those farmers to hang on just a little bit longer. It is tenuous, it is hurting in the Midwest. It’s hurting all over the country with the tariffs, but at the same time we do have to get China to the table,” she said. “We have to stop them from stealing intellectual property. We have to stop them from forced technology transfers.
“All of that is detrimental, not only to our economy, but to our national security. So the President has called our farmers patriots. It doesn’t pay the bills. It doesn’t pay the bills. But we will see in the upcoming months how long we can sustain.”
US farmers have been among the hardest hit by the escalating trade war between the two countries, and both sides are bracing for additional pain resulting from the latest volley of tariffs announced earlier this month.
Last week, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced that the federal government will spend an additional $16 billion to help farmers hurt by the trade war.
Perdue said that the farmer aid will be paid for by an equivalent amount the US expects to pull in through tariffs. But Perdue also claimed that “China’s gonna pay for these” — a false assertion made repeatedly by Trump.
The bailout was approved by Trump, Perdue said, in order to undermine China’s efforts to retaliate against US tariffs. The President is expected to address the new farmer aid package later this week at the White House.