Heartland farmers react to China’s soybean tariff

Heartland farmers react to China’s soybean tariff
Eric Towery, a farmer from Southeast Missouri, holds some yellow soybeans Thursday.

NEW MADRID COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - Farmers who grow soybeans in the Heartland feel like they have become a bargaining chip in the trading conflict between the United States and China as two large economies continue exchanging tariffs.

China announced Wednesday, April 4, that they're adding both yellow and black soybeans to its list of additional tariffs on 106 U.S. products.

Eric Towery, a farmer from northern New Madrid County, has grown soybeans for years on his family farm and says he wasn't surprised by China's decision to slap a 25% tariff on beans they import from American farmers.

"I figured it was coming," Towery said. "The Chinese are kind of ruthless traders the way the trade deficit is. If they target farmers maybe they figure they would get some backlash in this country, but China needs us more than we need them."

Towery thinks the tariffs could have temporary negative side effects, but that President Trump is 'on the right track' with his efforts to change the trading landscape with China.

"Maybe it's like pulling off a band-aid," Towery said. "It may sting a little now but I think in the long term we'll be a little bit better off."

Ken Westrich who owns his own farm south of Scott City said the soybean tariff 'wouldn't be the end of the world' but believes that having tariffs in place doesn't help anybody in the long run.

Right now Brazil is the largest importer of soybeans to China, but one thing Heartland farmers are counting on is for the demand for U.S. soybeans to go back up.

"The market took a hit yesterday from anticipation and it's back up today," Towery said. "I think supply and demand is king and always will be. China isn't buying beans from us because they want to be our friend or they like us. They're buying beans because they need them. Regardless of where they get pulled from they're going to pulled off the world balance sheet."

Besides price, Towery says the amount of soybeans Heartland farmers will plant also heavily depends on the weather and how it can limit the yields of other crops.

"This year has been incredibly wet and a lot of people don't like to plant corn late," Towery said. "Soybeans are more economical to grow, and you can plant beans on up through July if you had to. Beans are about half to grow what corn takes so you've got less money invested and less to lose in a bad year."

The effective start date of China's new tariffs on the U.S. is expected to be revealed at a later time.

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