US Agriculture Secretary talks Chinese tariffs during visit to area college

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue met with students and leaders at Central State University early on Thursday after touring the campus of the historically black college.

Perdue is participated in a round-table discussion with 16 students or so and CSU president Cynthia Jackson-Hammond.

Questions from students have ranged from topics of careers in agriculture to current events, including tariffs recently announced by China that are designed to target American agriculture. The Chinese tariffs came in response to President Donald Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum.

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Perdue told the crowd at Central State that he has spoken to the president about the Chinese tariffs and that the administration will not "allow farmers to bear the brunt and be the victims of trade disputes."

Ohio's soybean industry, which ranks 6th in the nation, is one of the sectors targeted by China's tariffs. Farmers are concerned about the tariffs because China is one of the top customers for Ohio soybean farmers, a spokeswoman from the Ohio Soybean Council told this news organization this week.

“The president wants me to assure you and others that…we’re going to use the resources of the USDA and the federal government to make sure the farmers aren't victimized," Perdue told Central State student Zachary Huff.

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Perdue did not go into detail about what the federal government would do to shield farmers from tariffs, instead saying “(In) a trade war, you don’t necessarily tell the opponent everything you’re going to do.”

Perdue also encouraged Central State students to pursue internships and careers in agriculture.

“I would love for you young people to look at USDA as a career,” he said. “There are many careers in agriculture that you’re learning here and preparing (for) here.”

Perdue’s visit to CSU was part of a larger tour the secretary is making by RV throughout the U.S. On Wednesday, the secretary visited Lima and Celina and before arriving at Central State on Thursday morning he stopped by Yellow Springs, he said.


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