“The term is meant to be pejorative because it’s a very bad policy,” he said. “I mean, think about what we’re doing — we’re inviting this retaliation that denies our farmers, the most productive farmers on the planet, the opportunity to sell their products overseas and then we say, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll have taxpayers send you some checks and make it O.K.’ ”
Farmers say that they would prefer free trade over government subsidies. But with exports of products such as wheat and soybeans to China drying up, they are willing to take whatever help they can get.
“It’s going to be needed,” said John Heisdorffer, a soybean producer from Keota, Iowa, and chairman of the American Soybean Association. “I hear from so many farmers now, how they’re struggling.”
Mr. Heisdorffer said that many farmers are feeling emotionally drained by the ups and downs of the trade negotiations with China and that he hopes Mr. Trump can find a way to roll back all the tariffs.
“At this point, I still hear a lot of support for the president,” he said. “We support what he’s doing, but we felt all the time that there was a different way than tariffs to have done it.”
But Mr. Trump thus far has shown little interest in changing course. Before boarding Marine One on Tuesday, the president described the economic battle with China as a “little squabble” and said that the United States would win in the end.
For lawmakers such as Mr. Grassley, who espouse the virtues of free trade, the stubbornness of the squabble has amounted to growing frustration. The senator from Iowa said this week that he intended to begin sending his concerns to Mr. Trump in writing.
“I’m not sure if you talk to him face to face he hears everything you say,” Mr. Grassley said.