Farmers appear apprehensive as trade war continues and harvest approaches

Megan Schiffres

by Megan Schiffres

As the trade war continues to rage between Washington and Beijing, those most affected by the ongoing negotiations can do nothing but watch and wait.

“You just gotta be patient, you just gotta ride out the storm in my opinion,” said Jeff Hinton, owner of J.R. Hinton & Sons Farm in Lancaster.

Farmers in the Northern Neck are stuck in a state of limbo, mere months away from harvesting acres of crops that they might be unable to sell at a profit. This is because last month China imposed a 25% tariff on U.S. agricultural imports, including soybeans, corn and wheat, in retaliation to the $34 billion in tariffs that the Trump administration levied against Chinese-made goods including steel and aluminum.

Soybeans, corn and wheat are the top crops produced in the Northern Neck. Northumberland County harvested some 767,000 bushels of soybeans, 1,956,000 bushels of corn and 501,000 bushels of wheat last year alone, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Soybeans are also the nation’s largest export to China, and earned over half of the U.S.’s $21.6 billion in agricultural exports to China in 2016.

The trade war was announced by the Trump administration as a way to address what they called China’s unfair trade policies, including intellectual property theft, tariffs on American goods and the $375 billion trade deficit between the two countries.

“From now on, we expect trading relationships to be fair and to be reciprocal,” said Trump in a press release.

In the weeks since the trade war began, soybean prices in the U.S. have dropped by over 20%, the lowest they’ve been since 2008. The value of corn has also fallen by about 16% in response to the ongoing trade war…


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