Missouri, Kansas farmers ‘at the mercy’ of China and Trump as trade fight escalates
China on Wednesday included soybeans, whiskey and cars on a $50 billion list of products slated for tariffs in response to President Donald Trump’s plan to impose a 25 percent tariff on a range of Chinese products, including aerospace, telecoms and machinery.
The announcement immediately led to a sharp drop in soybean prices.
The threatened tariffs from China could have a major impact on the economies of Kansas and Missouri.
Lavern Potuzak, who owns a family farm in Agenda, Kansas, said he’s not angry with Trump, but family farms in Kansas were already struggling and the drop in soybean prices won’t help his farm “when times are tough to begin with.”
China bought 62 percent of the soybeans that the U.S. exported from 2014 to 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Soybean futures dropped more than 40 cents Wednesday before recovering slightly.
“We raise about $4 billion in bushels of soybeans in the U.S. and so we just knocked a billion dollars off the value of our crop this morning,” said Blake Hurst, the president of the Missouri Farm Bureau.
Hurst owns a farm in Tarkio, and soybeans make up about half of his crop yield. Missouri ranked sixth among all states in soybean output in 2016, producing more than 270 million bushels, according to the USDA.
“We also got tariffs on cotton and a big tariff on pork, so a lot of Missouri products are getting hammered,” Hurst said.
U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, a Harrisonville Republican who owns a farm and grows soybeans, raised concerns about the tariffs.
“Farmers are hurting. They need more trade, not tariffs,” Hartzler said after a Wednesday event in Boonville, Mo.
“There’s a nervousness and a concern because prices have been down over the last several years in agriculture and we really need prices to increase,” she said. “… I don’t believe this is the last result of what the president is doing. I hope it’s just a temporary situation to get some concessions of China for some of their clear abuses in other areas.”