From the Senate Floor, Tester Demands Trump Administration ‘quit playing games with American agriculture’ on Trade

Senator: “One thing that has made this country great is family farm agriculture”

U.S. Senator Jon Tester, the Senate’s only working farmer, today took to the Senate floor to demand the Trump Administration “quit playing games with American agriculture,” and quickly end the trade war with China to avoid further damage to family farmers in Montana and across the country.

“If you want to talk about things like food security and being able to have food on the shelves, those family farmers are critically important,” Tester said. “And if you force them out of business, that’s more consolidation, that’s less people living in rural America—that’s a problem. And it’s less certainty with our food supply. We feed the world for good reason, because there’s a lot of family farmers out there that work very, very hard each and every day.”

He added, “So I would ask the executive branch to quit playing games with American agriculture.”

Senator Tester invited President Trump to visit his family farm in Big Sandy last month to talk with fellow Montana wheat producers about the importance of Asian markets to Montana farmers. The invitation resulted from deep concern among Montana farmers following the President’s comments disparaging the United States’ trade relationship with Japan, which is the world’s largest importer of Montana wheat.

During his floor speech, Tester also discussed how tariffs have stalled agriculture prices at the same levels they were during the late 1970s, and the negative and potentially irreversible effects this will have on family farmers across the country.

“We saw a mass exodus off the farm in the 1980s with family farm agriculture because of bad policies in part from [Washington, DC] and I’m afraid we’re going to see it again,” Tester said. “We’ve already seen it in my neighborhood. And I think it’s just the start….the American farmer, the family farmer is hurting. And I will tell you, one thing that has made this country great is family farm agriculture.”

Tester has been an outspoken critic of President Trump’s trade war and has pushed to hold the Administration accountable by passing legislation to give Congress a role in imposing tariffs. He has heard about the impact of these tariffs firsthand, holding in-person listening sessions with Montana farmers, ranchers, and small business owners about the consequences of the trade war.