SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is trying to reassure Washington farmers that they will not bear the brunt of an international trade war.

But Perdue declined to say specifically how the Department of Agriculture might help farmers hurt by retaliatory tariffs imposed by China and other trading partners.

The Spokesman-Review says Perdue made appearances in Spokane, Colfax and Pullman on Monday, alongside Republican U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

Perdue says his agency has many tools to keep farmers afloat as the Trump administration moves forward with tariffs on steel, aluminum and other products. Perdue did not say what those tools are.

He defended the tariffs as a way to punish China for stealing American technology and intellectual property.

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Information from: The Spokesman-Review, http://www.spokesman.com