Despite his backing of tariffs against China, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) is holding off his support of President Donald Trump’s plan to give struggling farmers $12 billion in aid.
Brown said the country needs to address what he calls “serial cheaters,” or countries with questionable trade practices like China. He said that is why he is waiting for the details of the proposed aid plan for farmers affected by tariffs.
“I don’t know enough how well-baked, how well-thought through this plan is," Brown said. "I’m concerned about how all of this has worked because we’ve not focused on the serial cheaters the way we should."
Sen. Rob Portman, Ohio’s Republican senator, said the farmer assistance might be a good short-term solution, but he is also pushing for re-establishing trade markets.
“’Trade, not aid,’ as farmers told me this past weekend," Portman said. "But maybe in the short term this could help some farmers get through a difficult period. And one would hope that we can work something out with China during this interim period that would allow these markets to come back.”
Ohio’s governor, John Kasich, had a less sunny disposition toward the bailout, calling it a “blatant political” move to protect Republican support in swing states.
"This really a terrible, terrible policy,” Kasich said at the Ohio State Fair on Wednesday.
Trump's tariffs against China and the European Union have been met with retaliation, with China in particular targeting U.S. exports of soybeans, pork, corn and other major products. Ohio's farmers send about 31 percent of their soybeans to China, and an Ohio State study found they could lose up to half their income due to tariffs.