Soybeans, pork socked by new Chinese tariffs

But quality of Illinois soybeans improves in latest USDA report

The quality of Illinois soybeans is improving slightly, according to this week’s USDA Crop Progress report. (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

The quality of Illinois soybeans is improving slightly, according to this week’s USDA Crop Progress report. (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

By Ted Cox

China responded to President Trump’s latest tariffs with heightened retaliatory tariffs on soybeans, pork, and other agricultural goods that took effect this month.

Bloomberg News reported Labor Day on Trump’s latest escalation of his trade war with China, as the president slapped tariffs on an additional $110 billion in Chinese imports effective Sunday. China responded at the start of September by slapping fresh tariffs on $75 billion in U.S. imports, including an extra 10 percent on U.S. pork, beef, chicken, and other agriculture products, as well as an extra 5 percent on top of the existing 25 percent tariff on soybeans.

China’s “target list strikes at the heart of Trump’s political support,” Bloomberg reported, “factories and farms across the Midwest and South at a time when the U.S. economy is showing signs of slowing down.”

Illinois Pork Producers reminded farmers in July about the president’s latest $16 billion in handouts this year as part of the so-called Market Facilitation Program to counter the economic effects of the Chinese tariffs. But soybean farmers, who’ve reportedly received the bulk of those payments, have insisted throughout they’d prefer “trade, not aid.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture released estimates of trade damage Wednesday, according to Blaming Chinese retaliatory tariffs imposed a year ago and again in June, when India also imposed retaliatory tariffs, it reported that “payment rates for some MFP-eligible crops include $2.05 per bushel for soybeans, 14 cents per bushel for corn, 41 cents per bushel for wheat, and $2.81 per tons for alfalfa hay. Producers who were prevented from planting a 2019 nonspecialty crop, but who planted a Commodity Credit Corporation-approved cover crop with the potential to be harvested, qualify for a $15 per acre payment. Overall, the county payment rates per acre for nonspecialty crops are capped at $15 per acre.”

The story reported that “other MFP rates include $11 per head of hogs and 20 cents per hundredweight for dairy.”

Soybean farmers got some overdue good news from the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture Crop Progress report released Tuesday, as the condition of this year’s crop continued to improve slightly. Some 7 percent of Illinois soybeans were rated excellent and 39 percent good, up to a combined 46 percent from 40 percent in mid-August. Some 37 percent was rated fair, leaving just 17 percent rated poor or very poor, down from 20 percent in mid-August.

Corn showed similar progress, with 6 percent of the crop rated excellent and 40 percent good through last week, a combined 46 percent up from 42 percent in mid-August. But with 39 percent rated fair, that left the same 19 percent rated either poor or very poor as was recorded last month.