U.S. farmers are among those watching China-U.S. trade talks. Following a White House decision to impose tariffs on Chinese goods, Beijing imposed its own tariffs on some American agricultural products.
As CGTN’s Dan Williams reports, that leaves many farmers in Iowa deeply concerned.
A sign of U.S.-China agricultural collaboration is right in the heart of America’s farm belt as an agribusiness tour party from northeastern China were shown various farming facilities in Iowa.
Among the facilities is the farm that hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping when he visited here six years ago as vice-president. But away from the fields there, concern continued over the ongoing trade dispute between the two countries.
The Trump administration’s decision to impose tariffs on China led China to impose tariffs on a range of U.S. product, including American soybeans.
Lin Tan is Executive President of Hopeful Investment & Holdings, a company that imports 300 million bushels of soybeans to China each year, a third of which comes from the U.S. He said the recent developments have made his job altogether more challenging.
“When you buy soybeans, you are not going to buy today and use today. Most of the time, you buy half a year before that, and then beans are shipped out of here on to the ocean. And, then you don’t know when the policy will be there,” explained Lin.
It is a key time for farmers with the growing season well underway. But many farmers remain deeply concerned that if the issue of tariffs continues, they will be the ones counting the cost come harvest time.
Iowa exported more than $5 billion of soybeans to China last year. Grant Kimberley of the Iowa Soybean Association said there are already signs the market is changing.
“I think there is certainly concern for soybean farmers right now. Especially in light of what we have seen recently that China has backed away from purchasing from the U.S.,” said Kimberley, the association’s Director of Market Development.
Rolland Schnell is a farmer in the nearby town of Newton and a former president of the Iowa Soybean Association. He fears for the consequences if an agreement is not reached soon.
“We’ve built good relationships with the customers around the world and if they find that for whatever reason our product is not an economically profitable thing to purchase they are going to go elsewhere,” warned Schnell.
Iowa’s soybean farmers and their Chinese guests hope it won’t be long before it’s business as usual again.