Seafood companies sue federal government, claim Trump administration plays favorites with tariff relief money

Published on
October 26, 2020

The Trump administration was taken to court on 21 October by three seafood-related companies that claim the federal government’s trade policies has harmed their businesses.

Texas-based Houston Seafood Company, LLC along with Gulf Marine Product Co., Inc. and Ningbo Trading Company, LLC, both based in Louisiana, filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for Southern Texas.

The businesses say China serves as a significant market for them, and Trump’s tariffs on goods from China has affected their operations.

“Despite repeated assertions that the foreign countries are paying ‘billions of dollars’ to the United States, the fact is that it is industries and companies, such as plaintiffs, who in actuality bear the costs associated with the tariffs in the form of increased product costs and lower profit margins,” the lawsuit states.

Further, the administration has responded with billions of dollars in “bailout money” to farmers who have been affected by the tariffs, but not businesses in other industries, such as the seafood industry.

The plaintiffs claim the subsidies farmers receive are a direct attempt to buy their votes for the upcoming presidential election.

The suit claims that counties that voted for Trump in 2016 received USD 157.83 (EUR 133.61) per person from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, compared to the USD 16.68 (EUR 14.12) per person awarded to counties that voted for 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

“The payments made to the farming industry are exceedingly generous in that the USDA is paying farmers roughly twice as much as the actual harm that they suffered from Trump’s trade war,” the complaint states. “Yet, other industries, such as plaintiffs’, received no subsidies at all instead having to pay higher product prices due to the imposition of the tariffs initiated and pushed for by President Trump.”

As a result, the businesses claim their Fifth Amendment rights have been violated and they are due equal protection under the law. The plaintiffs seek compensation for their damages as well as legal costs and other considerations the court may give.

Photo courtesy of U.S. District Court for Southern Texas

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