Sen. Charles Grassley

Sen. Charles Grassley

Trade deals with China and with Canada and Mexico appeared to be teetering on the edge on May 14, and Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said the time to resolve both disputes is now.

Grassley, speaking to reporters, said that the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) needed to get approved in 2019 because it would not get through Congress in a presidential election year. That Congressional approval wouldn’t come unless President Donald Trump removes the tariffs on steel and aluminum, Grassley said.

He said it is possible the U.S. and Canada could come to an agreement on the tariffs, and settling that issue could allow the trade agreement to move forward in 2019.

Thus far the Trump administration hasn’t officially presented the final agreement to Congress. Even if he does that now, technical deadlines make it unlikely any USMCA agreement could be approved before the August Congressional recess.

Meanwhile, the trade war with China took center stage, and Grassley said he hopes a favorable agreement could be reached soon because every day the trade war lasts hurts farmers and other businesses in the United States.

When asked about Trump’s talk of giving U.S. farmers up to $15 billion in aid to help offset the damage of the Chinese trade war, Grassley said that “farmers are more interested in the certainty that would come from an agreement with China.”

The senator said he expected any administration aid package for farmers would be something similar in design to the Commodity Credit Corporation law that was implemented this past winter after the first round of tariffs with China. Such a move would be faster and easier to implement than anything that would need to go through Congress.

Gene Lucht is public affairs editor for Iowa Farmer Today, Missouri Farmer Today and Illinois Farmer Today.