By Karl Plume
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Three industry groups representing U.S. grain and ethanol producers urged the White House and U.S. trade officials this week to prioritize industry complaints against China over import duties on U.S. ethanol and distiller's dried grains (DDGS) animal feed.
China last month increased punitive tariffs on imports of U.S. DDGS and ethanol, leading to the cancellation of several shipments from the United States. China has in recent years become a top importer of both products.
The Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy and the U.S. Grains Council, in a letter dated Feb. 7 that was released to the media, called China's higher tariffs "protectionist trade barriers" that have harmed U.S. producers.
"China's recent actions are significantly injuring U.S. ethanol producers and farmers, and undermining the substantial investments our industries have made in developing a cooperative and mutually beneficial trade relationship with China," the groups wrote.
"We respectfully request that your Administration, and specifically the incoming U.S. Trade Representative, place the Chinese government's injurious trade barriers against U.S. ethanol and DDGS near the top your China trade agenda." they wrote.
The letter was among the most strongly worded official communications from the agriculture industry since the president took office last month.
When the administration officially backed out of the TPP trade agreement and vowed to renegotiate NAFTA, two deals hugely beneficial for U.S. agriculture, farmer groups and agriculture companies wrote to highlight past trade successes and to pledge assistance in working with the White House on better deals in the future.
(Reporting by Karl Plume in Chicago; Editing by James Dalgleish)