Escalating U.S.-China trade war puts soybean farmers on shaky ground

The Trump administration’s escalating trade war with China is putting some American farmers on uncertain ground. In response to U.S. tariffs, China – the leading importer of U.S. agricultural foods over the past few years – slapped a 25 percent tariff on U.S. soybeans last week and more retaliation could be ahead.

Farmer Paul Taylor, the owner of an 800-acre farm, isn’t thrilled by the prospect of tariffs but he’s willing to give President Trump’s trade approach a shot.

“I’m gonna give him the benefit of the doubt,” Taylor told CBS News’ Dean Reynolds. “I think it’s okay to shake things up.”

Though optimistic, the third-generation farmer has concerns like whether it will drive the Chinese to buy more soybeans from Brazil.
“In this case it’s done to modify behavior of our trading partners. Will that work? I don’t know. They don’t have a very good record for that,” Taylor said. “I just hope to God it doesn’t lead to any kind of international recession.”

President Trump has long spoken about how he thinks China takes advantage of the U.S. Earlier this week, the president addressed farm trade, tweeting: “I am fighting for a level playing field for our farmers, and will win!”
On Taylor’s farm, patience could be in much shorter supply come fall when the soybeans are ready to sell. The price per bushel is down about 20 percent since March.

Taylor said that because he’s over 90 percent priced on his 2018 soybeans, he’s set for this year. But 2019? “Bets are off.”

If there is one word that can best describe the feelings down on the farm this year, it would be “uncertainty” – like when you grow crops for a living but aren’t really sure who will buy them. 

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