Say the word “anniversary” and it usually inspires fond memories or emotional cheers. That’s not the case for soybean growers, who have swallowed a bitter pill during the year that has just passed.
July 6, 2018, brought instantaneous losses for soybean farmers after President Trump ordered tariffs against our nation’s largest buyers of U.S.-grown soybeans.
Rather than a collective cheer, U.S. soybean growers and other producers are letting out a collective whimper.
It’s a reaction to the lost soybean profits and a feeling of helplessness to return to normal trade practices, free from government interference.
The July 6 one-year mark of 25 percent tariffs placed on U.S. soybeans exported to China has left the industry with a feeling of helplessness.
Davie Stephens, a grower from Clinton, Ky., is president of the American Soybean Association. He said before the trade war began, U.S. soybean farmers could count on collecting more than $10 per bushel, but that number now is around $8 per bushel, according to Stephens.
“Dealing with weather, weeds, pests and normal markets is tough enough for farmers, but being caught in the middle of a trade war for an entire year is a whole different level. Prices are lower and anxiety is definitely higher for those of us trying to keep our farms going,” Stephens said.
Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed at the G-20 summit to resume negotiations that had stalled in May.
The prospect for a return to normal trading with China provided a glimmer of hope that tariffs might be ended before their first anniversary. However, optimism doesn’t pay the bills.
Bitter about the yearlong ordeal, soybean farmers only can hope the trade war ends sooner rather than later so they and their rural American neighbors can farm without the millstone of bad national trade policy holding them down.
U.S. bean sales to China are down 705.2 million bushels compared to the 2017-18 marketing year, said the U.S. Soybean Export Council.
That’s lost business, and, if the trade war isn’t called off soon, other soy-producing countries could steal U.S. market share.
It’s time to call off the tariffs and reopen the door for trade.