Commissioner Fried, Congressman Soto Blast Trump’s Trade War: Kicks Floridians When They Are Down

Today, the Florida Democratic Party held a press call with Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, Congressman Darren Soto, and Joseph Pennisi, president of Agora Policy Innovation, that blasted Trump’s trade policies for hurting Florida farmers and businesses.

Commissioner Fried described how timber, citrus, and seafood exports to China have dropped, saying, “Maybe the president thinks he is helping with tariffs and trade wars, but, as they say, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions and his agenda has been a path to perdition for Florida farmers.” More from Fried’s remarks:

“Another way President Trump’s agenda is hurting our farmers is his trade war with China. It’s not just threatening Florida’s agriculture, it’s actively harming it right now. Timber is Florida’s biggest agricultural commodity and timber exports to China are down 64 percent this year alone, thanks in part to China’s 25 percent tariff on Timber. So, while other nations like Russia and Brazil are filling this gap, the trade war with China is devastating Florida’s timber farmers.

“We’re actively trying to help Florida citrus make comeback from citrus greening diseases, but with China’s 25 percent retaliatory tariff, our fruit juice exports to China are down 65 percent this year. At a time when we’re trying to help Florida seafood recover from devastating hurricanes, Florida exports to China of lobsters are down 34 percent and crabs down 79 percent, thanks, again, in part to these tariffs.”

Congressman Soto called out Trump for how hard his trade policy hurts Florida’s citrus growers “this just kicks them while they are down”:

“Just to be clear, President Trump’s trade policy has sent are trade relations into absolute chaos and it’s hurting Florida’s agriculture and manufacturing communities and the tariffs are increasing prices on consumers.

This is absolutely hurting our local agriculture businesses. Citrus, whether it’s through orange juice or otherwise, we export it to Asia, to Europe, and to other countries and this is raising our prices and making us less competitive. We’re already seeing our citrus community recover from Hurricane Irma and from citrus greening that we are still working on, and this just kicks them while they are down.”

“Tariffs are, in essence, a tax on American consumers” Joseph Pennisi, who provides strategic advice on budget and tax policy, public finance, and economics, stated as he laid out the issues with Trump’s trade policies for the broader U.S. economy:

“Tariffs are, in essence, a tax on American consumers; they raise prices, undermine our economy, and slow growth. The latest figures show growth slowing to 2.1 percent in the most recent quarter. This can be attributed, at least in part, to the growing impact of the president’s trade war.

The independent Tax Foundation has modeled the impact of tariffs on our economy, and they see a loss of 94,000 jobs from tariffs the president has imposed and another potential 290,000 jobs lost from threatened additional tariffs. By raising prices, tariffs take dollars out of the pockets of Florida families struggling to make ends meet.”

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