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Trump To Visit Iowa To Convince Voters Tariffs Will Work Out

NOEL KING, HOST:

President Trump will make a couple of stops in the Midwest today, and one of the places he'll visit is eastern Iowa. Farmers in Iowa have been hurt by the president's trade fights. Since Trump first levied tariffs on steel and aluminum, the prices of soybean futures have fallen 20 percent. That is the lowest in nearly a decade. I'm on the line now with Representative David Young. He's a Republican from Iowa's 3rd District, which includes Des Moines and also large tracts of farmland. Good morning, sir.

DAVID YOUNG: Hey. It's nice to be with you. Thank you.

KING: All right. The president is going to sit down with local leaders in Iowa today. What kind of reception do you think he's going to get?

YOUNG: Well, I think despite what he may be going there to talk about, I think ultimately the conversation will revolve around trade. And that's really on the mind with a lot of Iowans, and that's our livelihood in Iowa. That's our economy, agriculture. And so he's going to hear about that.

KING: Do you think people will be willing to push the president?

YOUNG: I think - yeah. And encourage him, as well, to kind of land this plane on tariffs and trade sooner rather than later and do it in a safe and quick fashion. You know, when I'm talking to folks in the 3rd District - and it's a lot of agriculture area - you know, folks are very concerned about the retaliatory effects on their bottom line. As well, at the same time, they want to make sure that we do take it to China and ultimately get a better trade deal. Now, how long that will take, I don't know. But a lot of farmers and producers are still willing to give the president a little more rope on this, but they want some kind of clear definition of what the goals and objectives are and how we get there and win. And so...

KING: I liked your expression there, landing the plane. Let's talk a little bit about what happened yesterday. President Trump announced that the United States and the European Union would resolve their fight and lower tariffs.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The European Union is going to start, almost immediately, to buy a lot of soybeans here. Tremendous market.

KING: And I should say, actually, the president announced that the U.S. - or, the European Union will not be imposing new tariffs. More soybeans sent to the EU. Will farmers in your state feel better about this?

YOUNG: Well, it's a step in the right direction, and it gives them some comfort. But, ultimately, you know, it doesn't make up for what we have lost with the China market. And so that's really where the concentration is on. And so this is a great step, of course. But, you know, how do you land this plane? What are the goals and objectives? I think we need to make sure that we're isolating China. And, you know, this latest announcement with the EU on soybeans is helpful because we need to make sure that we have some strong relationships with our allies, get on with some bilateral agreements and then together, I think, isolate China on this; get the NAFTA agreement done with Canada and Mexico and show some strength there and some resolve there - because we need anything right now in agriculture in Iowa to give farmers some kind of certainty and confidence that this is going to come to a close, that they're going to be better off.

KING: A very long list of things there. China and NAFTA, both towering challenges for the United States. President Trump recently announced $12 billion in short-term federal aid for farmers. Will that help ease some of the pain?

YOUNG: It may, and it's probably needed in some areas with some producers and growers. But it's not ultimately what growers and farmers and producers want.

KING: No?

YOUNG: They want markets, and that's what they're telling me. You know, in talking to producers and commodity groups, it's so easy to lose a market. And it's very, very tough to gain markets. Sometimes it can take not just years, but decades. And so this is kind of the hand that the farmers have been dealt with. They want this game to speed up and come to a resolution.

KING: Congressman, you're up for re-election this fall. Your district had been rated as leaning Republican, but that has changed and your race is now considered a toss-up. Do you think that's a reflection over worries about President Trump's policies affecting Iowa?

YOUNG: Well, I think it's probably just a reflection of the margin. It's a Republican-leaning district by one point. I was in a toss-up in 2016, 2014. So it's nothing new here. Politics and elections will take care of themselves, and I'm just focused on the policy here of what's coming out of the White House and Congress, as well, and what can be helpful to the farmers and producers in my state, as well as getting a farm bill done sooner rather than later. We've passed it in the House. It's passed in the Senate. We need to get that conference committee rolling and get this done before the end of the fiscal year. That as well will help give producers and farmers some certainty, too, with what's going on with trade in the background.

KING: Is there a reason that you are not with President Trump today? I'm wondering if appearing with him would hurt your chances at re-election, do you think?

YOUNG: Well, the people of the 3rd District have voted me in to work, and we have votes today. And I've not missed a vote since I've been elected, and I'm going to answer to my bosses here and stay on the job.

KING: Representative David Young, Republican from Iowa. Thank you, sir.

YOUNG: It's been a pleasure. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.