US-China trade talks: American soy and corn farmers hope for reprieve soon

Global Business

Trade talks between China and the U.S. are set to resume in Washington on Thursday. 

There are media reports suggesting China may seek a partial deal – that would include increased purchases of U.S. agricultural products. 

If that were to happen, it could provide relief for U.S. farmers. 

CGTN’s Dan Williams reports.

The U.S. state of Illinois has been badly hit by the dispute. More soybeans are produced there than in any other U.S. state. 

And as Illinois farmer Steve Fourez harvests this year’s crop of soybeans and corn, he is deeply concerned. “It’s one of those things that, it has dragged on long enough. We need to get some kind of resolution, some kind of direction so we can plan.”

The trade dispute between the U.S. and China has seen increasing tariffs imposed on billions of dollars of one another’s goods since early 2018. 

As a result, exports of soybeans to China fell to $3.1 billion last year, down from $12.2 billion in 2017. 

But there are signs of hope. China purchased around six hundred thousand tons of U.S. soybeans last month. Another Illinois farmer, Brandon Daugherty is hopeful a deal can be made.“We’ve had decent markets until the last couple of years, ever since the trade tariffs have taken their toll.  I would love to see those tariffs go by the wayside, China and U.S. get together, whatever it takes, get together.”

For many farmers across the U.S., this growing season has presented a range of challenges. Not least less than unfavorable weather conditions across huge areas of the country, that has meant some fields are not yet ready to be harvested. Yield projections for both corn and soybeans are down from last year. Fourez says farmers could do with some good news. “It has been a high stress year. It is one thing to deal with Mother Nature and the hand she dealt us this year. But when you put depressed markets down on that, it gets hard people to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Although it’s a busy time for farmers, the worry and anxiety remains.