U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger attended a closed Livingston County Farm Bureau roundtable meeting Tuesday morning with area agriculturalists. After the meeting’s end, he fielded questions from the press about the meeting, one of the chief subject’s of which was the trade war the U.S. is currently engaged in with China and the detrimental effect it’s had on the trading price of soy.
    Kinzinger, R-Channahon, told the media that while the mood of farmers was less than optimistic, he believed they were willing to give the Trump administration a chance to right wrongs the president believes China has committed in terms of unfair trade practices.
    “A couple of the points I made in the meeting was that it seemed like, at the beginning, we were fixing to fight the whole world on this (trade war) issue — Canada, Mexico, Europe and China,” he said. “My biggest concern with these is that, if we’re going to fight unfair trading practices, let’s do it one at a time with different nations.
    “The good news is that we appear to be closer to a deal with Mexico for a NAFTA renegotiation, which I think is going to drive Canada closer to our position, so we may get a NAFTA renegotiation.”
    Kinzinger clarified that he had “very mixed feelings of where we are at.” On the one hand, he opposes tariffs as a roadblock for free trade and that their cavalier usage by President Donald Trump has hurt agricultural communities; however, he did align with Trump on wanting to correct trade imbalances that they believe has resulted from China’s alleged theft of intellectual property.
    “There have been some massive abuses by China,” he said. “We understand that the Chinese may have taken aim at ag because these are the people that voted for Donald Trump, so we’ll see … One of the good things is that the Europeans announced that they would buy more soy, but obviously Europe is ‘x’ population and China is four times that.”
    The representative noted that while farmers were appreciative of the Trump administration’s promised $12 billion bailout being used to offset the tanking soy market, he was also aware that they had more of an interest in a long-term solution.
    “I think people are grateful for that, but ag doesn’t want that,” he stated. “They ultimately don’t want a situation where they survive because the government’s writing checks. So in the short term, it’s a good thing, but the long-term hope is that since the Chinese economy is on the bubble in certain areas, we think, it would probably behoove them to instead of having all of their imports sanctioned, frankly, or tariffed, to actually come to the table and negotiate.
    “We’re not asking for handouts from China; we’re asking that the Chinese be fair and quit stealing our intellectual property.”
    Still, the mood among farmers, Kinzinger admitted, was not quite optimistic that the trade war would be resolved sooner before later. He had hopes, however, that other bartering avenues the U.S. was exploring could offset the damage done to the soy trading market.
    “I think if we can get NAFTA done and if we can have this kind of detente with Europe, there will be some optimism from that,” he said. “What I’m sensing is that they trust this president and they believe in him. They’re nervous, but they’re willing to give him a little space.
    “As of today, I’m not hearing a lot of people in the ag community irate, but if this goes on for a year or two, you might see them get irate, but the hope is that we can come to a deal and end all this.”