trade

U.S. farmers have long depended on foreign buyers for some of their corn, soybeans, pork and other products. And federal officials have used some agricultural commodities as tools of diplomacy for decades.

But as the Trump administration has pursued hard-line moves with major trading partners, especially China, farmers have found themselves with huge surpluses — and on the receiving end of government aid.

The U.S. trade war with China, now approaching a year, is often framed as hurting manufacturing and agriculture the most. But that’s mainly collateral damage in an international struggle over power and technology that has its roots in the Cold War, when China was still considered a largely undeveloped country.

Brian Grimmett / Kansas News Service

It’s morning. You pull out your favorite box of cereal and pour it into a bowl. Then you go to your fridge to grab the milk, only to find that the jug is practically empty.

After you mutter a few unrecognizable words, you toss the milk container into your recycle bin and move on to finding something else to eat. We’ve all been there.

While you’ll likely never think about that plastic milk jug again, its journey into a complex system of waste has only just begun.

Nadya Faulx / KMUW/File photo

Mike Pompeo, the U.S. Secretary of State and a former Kansas congressman from Wichita, spoke about some of the key issues he is dealing with as the country’s leader of foreign policy during a brief interview Thursday with KMUW. 

Farmers and agriculture groups are digging through the details of the new North American trade deal, called the United States Canada Mexico Agreement, and some are raising concerns that clash with the celebratory mood of the three countries’ leaders.

Nadya Faulx / KMUW

Trade was at the top of the agenda at Thursday's 4th Congressional District candidate forum in Pratt.

Republican incumbent Ron Estes and Democratic candidate James Thompson spoke on health care, immigration and taxes — they don't agree on any of those issues — but many of the forum’s questions focused on trade and tariffs.

President Donald Trump has reached a tentative trade deal with Mexico, and now the focus of tariff talks shifts to Canada.

It’s a high-stakes situation for Kansas industry because Canada is the top export market for the state.

Kansas exports totaled more than $11 billion in 2017, led by agricultural products, aircraft and airplane parts. Nearly $2.5 billion of those exports went to Canada. The other partner in the North American Free Trade Agreement, Mexico, was the second biggest market for Kansas exports, at nearly $2 billion.

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A Kansas trade expert says a new U.S. trade agreement with Mexico could help grow Kansas companies and the economy of south-central Kansas.

Karyn Page, president of Kansas Global Trade Services, says the tentative agreement announced Monday is a sign that trade negotiations are moving forward.

Representatives from the U.S., Mexico and Canada began talks to update the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) more than a year ago. The trilateral trade pact was implemented in 1994 to eliminate barriers to trade and investment.

Billionaire industrialist Charles Koch is warning that Trump administration trade policies could trigger a recession.

Koch lashed out at President Donald Trump's brewing international trade war during a private weekend gathering in Colorado of hundreds of conservative donors.

Koch, chairman and CEO of Koch Industries, told reporters that "protectionism at any level" is "detrimental."

He said Trump's approach, "if it's severe enough," could lead to a recession.

The trade war has come home to roost among U.S. farmers and ranchers whose livelihoods are targeted by tariffs from China, Mexico and Canada. The U.S. Department of Agriculture did something about it Tuesday, announcing it'll spend up to $12 billion in aid, including direct payments to growers. 

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