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Wolf Derides ‘Lack Of Strategy’ In Trump’s Trade Approach

Matt Rourke

Gov. Tom Wolf is raising the alarm over the impact Chinese tariffs are having on Pennsylvania’s farmers.

President Donald Trump’s tariffs on foreign aluminum and steel may have boosted the domestic steel industry, but China’s retaliatory tariffs on American crops have hurt exports from Pennsylvania farms.

It’s a plight the federal government has acknowledged.

The $12 billion aid package the Trump administration passed to help farmers got mixed reception in the commonwealth. 

The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau has said it appreciates the administration noting the hardship tariffs have brought to the agriculture industry, but that it would prefer leaders resolve the tensions that led to those tariffs in the first place.

A bigger aid package is being proposed now. Wolf, a Democrat, said he doesn’t think it’s the right approach.

“Farmers I’ve talked to say it actually is a Band-Aid,” he said. “Why are we doing that? Why don’t we address the underlying, root-cause problem which is we maybe don’t have a fair trading system.”

Wolf said he’d rather Trump lean more on the World Trade Organization.

“It’s not just the tariffs,” he said. “I think there’s chaos surrounding the tariffs. There’s a frustrating lack of strategy on the part of the administration.”

NPR also interviewed Republican Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, who said he thinks it is worth weathering bad times in the agriculture industry if it leads to better trade relationships.

This story was updated at 4:16 p.m. on 5/16/19 to include more information on the Farm Bureau's response to tariffs.