Soybean farmers on Trump tariffs: 'When it rains, it pours'

‘Trade war abandons soybean farmers’ future’

Doubts are growing among farmers about the ultimate effects of President Trump’s trade war with China. (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

Doubts are growing among farmers about the ultimate effects of President Trump’s trade war with China. (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

By Ted Cox

Farmers are up in arms across the state over President Trump’s escalating trade war with China.

The Illinois Soybean Association put out a news release this week proclaiming, “Trade war abandons soybean farmers’ future.”

Lynn Rohrscheib, president of Illinois Soybean Growers, issued a statement saying: “Despite assurances from Washington, D.C., the trade war between the U.S. and China lingers. We continue to see missed deadlines and unbrokered dealsAs this persists, we face more pain and uncertainty at the time when we must take the risk of planting another year’s crop.”

Saying the Trump administration “has made another miscalculation,” threatening “the livelihoods of farmers and the communities they support,” Rohrscheib pointed out that Illinois soybean farmers “lost nearly one-third of our market overnight” when China imposed retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agriculture last year. She called that “a predictable and preventable blow that no other major U.S. company or industry has had to endure.”

Trump boasted in Granite City last summer that his tariffs had revived the U.S. Steel Works there, but his attempts to reassure farmers over the impact of the trade war are meeting growing concern and resistance after he imposed a new round of 25 percent tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports last week.

“It seems like when it rains, it pours,” Rohrscheib added, punning on heavy rains this spring that have delayed planting and also raised anxiety among farmers. “Illinois soybean producers face greater challenges each day without a deal. We see no end in sight. There must be a better long-term strategy to remain viable and win the trade war. The only soybean farmers not scared are our competitors.”

After Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert Jr. said last week he was “deeply concerned” about the impact of the trade war, adding, “Farmers are on the front lines of this trade war and are sacrificing their livelihoods and it hasn’t gotten better,” IFB Vice President Brian Duncan chimed in that agriculture “has been left behind” in trade talks between the two countries.

“What’s next?” Duncan told Fox Business News from his hog farm in Polo. “We are out of economic runway.”

Although the Illinois Soybean Association has resisted government handouts to make up for the lost revenue, calling instead for “trade, not aid,” Guebert suggested the Farm Bureau would welcome a new round of federal funds, and Duncan echoed that.

“I think the reality is that farmers have bills to pay,” Duncan said. “The economic consequences of this trade war are real, and they are being felt on the farm. I think a lot of farmers, although they would rather get their money from the marketplace, will look for something to help pay the bills.”