Local Texas farmer urges lawmakers to support trade deals

WASHINGTON (Gray DC)-- A Grayson County, Texas farmer is feeling optimistic about President Trump’s preliminary trade deal with China. He traveled to the nation’s capital encouraging lawmakers to support the deal and other trade deals worldwide.

Clint Rutledge from Grayson County, Texas joined other Texas farmers urging lawmakers to support trade deals that could benefit U.S. farmers. (Source: GrayDC)

“Everybody says it’s a job, but I don’t call it a job. It’s a way of life,” said Clint Rutledge, a member of the Texas Bureau State Young Farmer and Rancher Advisory Committee.

Rutledge is walking the halls of Congress instead of his farm fields this week.

He joined other Texas farmers to urge Congressional lawmakers to support deals that could benefit U.S. farmers.

Our cameras were not allowed to get access to the meetings with lawmakers on Capitol Hill, but in statements they said they are supportive of passing legislation to help the farmers survive.

Texas Republican Congressman Mike Conaway (R-TX) said, “I thoroughly enjoyed meeting with several members of the Texas Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Rancher program, including two from TX-11, today in Washington, DC. These young men and women are the future of agriculture, and I am encouraged by the dedication and commitment they’ve shown to feeding and clothing our nation.”

In a statement, Texas Republican Senator Cornyn’s (R-TX) Press Secretary Libby Hambleton said, “Meeting with farmers and ranchers allows our staff to hear about the challenges they face and how Senator Cornyn can best help as they work to put food on our tables and clothing on our backs.”

In a statement, Sen. Cruz said he is hopeful United States will get a good deal with China.

"For a long time, China's trade policies have not been fair. Sen. Cruz is grateful President Trump and the administration are leaning in hard on China, and will continue to work to ensure Texas farmers and ranchers are able to compete on the world state with fairer terms," he said.

After the meeting, Texas Republican Congressman John Carter (R-TX) said, “Today, I had the pleasure of sitting down with two young TX-31 farmers and ranchers, Travis and Kaylin, to discuss the importance of passing the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement. These bright young people recognize the importance of securing greater market access and stability for Texas’ agriculture industry.”

“We’ve gotta get something done,” said Rutledge.

“It’s pretty tough right now.”

Last week, President Donald Trump announced a potential trade agreement with China. One provision would require China to buy more agricultural products from U.S. farmers.

“A tremendous deal for the farmers—a purchase from 40 to 50 billion dollars,” said Trump, in a press conference.

Rutledge is excited because more exports means more money in farmers’ pockets.

“That’ll keep the prices up,” he said.

Rutledge says he hopes this deal is a step in the right direction for future generations.

“We want it for our kids,” said Rutledge.

Robert Scott with the Economic Policy Institute says farmers like Rutledge shouldn’t be so optimistic. He says the President’s preliminary trade deal with China won’t bring farmers more business in the long run.

“What’s gonna happen is they’ll be selling less to the rest of the world and a little more to China,” said Scott, the Senior Economist and Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Research.

Scott said the best way to help farmers would be to develop incentives to make U-S exports more competitive around the world, not just with China.

“We need to again bring down the value of the U.S. dollar. That will make imports more expensive and that will make consumers switch,” said Scott.

U-S officials say President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping could sign the trade deal agreement sometime in the next month.

Rutledge said he and other Texas farmers met with the Japan embassy Thursday to discuss keeping trade deals strong with that country too.

Rutledge returned to Texas on Thursday.

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