Soybean farmers to Trump: We need trade, not aid

Illinois Soybean Growers reject U.S. aid package, $3.6B handout

By Ted Cox

Saying, "Producers need trade, not aid," Illinois Soybean Growers are rejecting the Trump administration's $12 billion aid package to alleviate tariffs, including $3.6 billion earmarked for soybean farmers.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the first details on Trump's $12 billion handouts on Monday. According to Perdue, the U.S. government plans to buy $1.2 billion in goods that have seen their prices drop in Trump's trade war, and has designated $3.6 billion in aid to soybean farmers.

The Illinois Soybean Association, however, declared that it would just as soon help itself if given the opportunity.

"As soybean producers head into harvest, we need access to markets from trade deals and a stable Farm Bill, not short-term aid packages," said Doug Schroeder, vice chairman of Illinois Soybean Growers and a farmer in Mahomet, in a statement released Monday by the Illinois Soybean Association.

According to Schroeder, "In recent years, more than half of our soybeans have been exported with the majority going to China. More U.S. soy gets exported to China than all other American agricultural products combined."

Soybean prices have plummeted with the rise in supply and drop in demand following China's retaliatory tariffs in response to Trump's trade war. Illinois Pork Producers have also felt the pinch.

"Market access and trade certainty support our families, our businesses, and our communities," Schroeder insisted. "Short-term aid does not create long-term market stability. Producers need trade, not aid."

In a separate statement, Schroeder said soybean farmers were "encouraged" by progress in trade talks between the Trump administration and Mexico.

Trump has touted the effects of his trade war, as with a visit this summer to the U.S. Steel Granite City Works, where his tariffs on imported steel led workers to be rehired.

But a new NBC poll released last week found that residents in Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Texas were dubious about Trump's trade war and expected it to cause higher prices.

According to the poll, less than a quarter of all Illinoisans — 23 percent — think the tariffs will help the economy and protect jobs. By contrast, almost half, 42 percent, think the tariffs will be a drag on the economy and a burden to consumers. Support for the trade war was only slightly stronger in Pennsylvania and Texas, with a plurality still opposed to the tariffs.