Heitkamp, Bustos Announce New Bill to Use Tariff Revenue to Help U.S. Producers Hurt by Trade War

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp and Congresswoman Cheri Bustos today announced they will introduce new legislation to direct funds the government is collecting from tariffs on imported goods toward trade promotion assistance to help open new markets for farmers and ranchers hurt by the trade war.

The government has already collected over $3.5 billion from tariffs, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Meanwhile, farmers and ranchers are suffering as the trade war impacts their ability to sell goods abroad, hurting their bottom lines and their livelihoods. With the administration’s trade war impacting everything from commodity prices to input costs for producers in North Dakota, Illinois, and elsewhere around the country. Heitkamp and Bustos’ legislation would take action to help mitigate some damage caused by retaliatory tariffs imposed on U.S. goods. Heitkamp will introduce in the U.S. Senate and Bustos will introduce companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“As markets shrink and commodity prices continue to plummet, hardworking farmers across the heartland are facing the very real consequences of this reckless trade war,” said Bustos. “I am proud to introduce legislation with Senator Heitkamp to stop the bleeding and invest the revenue from these damaging trade tariffs into growing our rural economy. USDA’s Market Access Programs and Foreign Market Development Programs have been proven to generate more than $30 in economic activity for every dollar invested. Our farmers feed not only our country, but the world, and we’re committed to helping them grow their business.”

“The trade war is causing real pain for North Dakota farmers and ranchers, which is why I’ve been working on commonsense actions to open markets and support producers. Our new bill is another needed step to help those being harmed with the funds being brought in from the tariffs,” Heitkamp said. “We can’t just sit by and watch orders get cancelled and markets disappear, so I’m doing everything I can to speak out against this trade war and to help relieve some of the pain it is causing. What North Dakota producers ultimately want is markets, so this bill specifically aims to boost exports and help them find new buyers for the goods they work hard to produce. We need smart trade policies that support hard working North Dakotans and strengthen our rural economy. Period.”

The legislation would direct the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to direct funds collected by the Treasury from tariffs on imported goods toward trade promotion programs that help U.S. farmers and ranchers, including the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD).

From the beginning of this administration, Heitkamp has been proactively fighting for smart trade policies to protect North Dakota producers. The bill she announced today builds on her legislative strategy to mitigate the impacts of the trade war to help North Dakota’s largest industries. In July, she introduced legislation to help farmers and ranchers recover losses they face because of the administration’s trade war. Her bill would make Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) available – at no additional cost to the existing TAA program – to farmers and producers whose exports are hurt by retaliatory tariffs caused by the administration’s trade policies.

Earlier this year, Heitkamp joined U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) leading a bipartisan group of eight other senators in introducing legislation to require congressional approval of tariffs designated for national security reasons. Heitkamp also cosponsored bipartisan legislation introduced by Republican U.S. Senator Jeff Flake from Arizona to nullify the aluminum and steel tariffs.

Congresswoman Bustos has been extremely vocal about the impact of the trade war which has threatened Illinois’ top economic driver and the livelihood of thousands of family farmers. After spending August traveling more than 2,400 miles and holding 21 events for her annual 21st Century Heartland tour, Bustos consistently heard from farmers about the need to open new export markets which this legislation would help address.

Congresswoman Bustos has been a longtime advocate for expanding MAP and FMD programs that help farmers establish and expand markets around the globe. Bustos is an original co-sponsor of the Expanding American Agricultural Trade and Exports (CREAATE) Act and took part in the bipartisan agricultural trade mission to Cuba to learn more about existing barriers.