MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Finally, there is some good export news for Minnesota farmers, but it took a tentative deal with Japan — not China — to give them something to smile about.

This year has not been kind to Minnesota’s farmers. Delayed planting, declining markets and tariffs have put the agriculture economy in a downward spiral. That’s why the Minnesota Beef Council’s Karin Schaefer is cheering news out of Japan.

On Sunday, the United States and Japan agreed in principle on the core elements of a deal involving agricultural and industrial tariffs. Japan will agree to slash the 38-48% tariffs it imposes on imports of U.S. beef, essentially reinstating the terms of the Obama-era Trans-Pacific Partnership, which President Donald Trump abandoned.

Not only will this benefit Minnesota beef and pork growers, but also corn and soybean farmers.

“We’ve been making progress in growing the market more and more, but we’re hindered by high tariffs on the product over there. So this goal would bring those tariffs down significantly by entering into this trade deal and we think that would be great for the beef industry,” said Karin Schaefer, executive director of the Minnesota Beef Council.

While this trade deal with Japan is good news for beef exports, they’re not the only farmers to benefit. Pork producers and grain farmers stand to export more as well.

Japan also wants to step up imports of U.S.-grown pork, and also the excess corn that is piling up due to the ongoing trade war with China.

“It’s a great step forward with a great trade partner,” Kirby Hettver, a farmer and board member on the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, said.

President Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are expected to ink the deal next month.

Japan imports about $14 billion in U.S. agricultural products each year.

Bill Hudson

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