On March 1, 2018 U.S. President Trump announced that a 25% tariff on imported steel and a 10% tariff on imported aluminum would take effect the following week. On March 22, 2018, President Trump specifically targeted the Chinese with tariffs on up to $60 billion worth of Chinese imports including components used in aeronautics, energy, computing, and machinery. The Chinese government responded by levying fees on a wide range of US products slated to enter China, including meat, wine, fruit, nuts, apples, whiskey and soybeans. This response represents a new tactic in global protectionist policy. By targeting US food exports, the Chinese government put pressure directly on the GOP base. This was not a policy designed to protect domestic Chinese farmers against foreign competition. Instead, it was intended to force the Trump Administration and, by extension, the Republican Party, to answer to its agricultural base, a base that would face economic ruin as a consequence of a trade war fought on China’s terms. Other countries have learned from this and enacted similar policies. The US food system, already a global entity, has become a pawn of economic policy in a way that it has never been in the past. This paper examines the implications of this new form of protectionism on US food producers and consumers as well as the global food system.