Changes to tariffs, trade bring crop concerns for soybean farmers

Tariffs, trade changes bring crop concerns for soybean farmers
Updated: Jul. 13, 2018 at 7:40 PM EDT
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Lanesville, IN (WAVE) - Area soybean farmers continue to keep an eye on markets following a 25 percent tariff imposed by China in recent months. The move coming after changes to trade and tariff policies made by President Trump.

Farmers say soybean and corn crop prices have taken big declines and they worry about their farms being hurt deeply by the trade war.

Guy Heitkemper has been farming corn and soybeans all his life. Over the years, he's learned to keep a close eye on prices.

"I watch the markets. I look at them in the morning, I look at them when I go to bed," said Guy Heitkemper, a corn and soybean farmer near Lanesville, Indiana.

The season started out great for Heitkemper, with prices coming in strong for corn and soybeans. But in the months following changes to trade with China and tariffs imposed on soybeans other products, that high price has gone down. If the price stays low, it could eliminate any profit his crops could yield.

"You're out there, feeling great. Then the price d rops to $9 dollars, then to $8 and you're sort of like what am I doing? I'm working and I'm to lose money," he said.

As the crop grows higher, the price of soybeans continues to d rop. The instability surrounding prices when harvest comes around is a big worry for him and farms like his.

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Indiana University Southeast economics professor Eric Schansberg said the short-term impact of trade and tariff changes could hurt farmers deeply this year.

Changes to tariffs are leading to big cuts to orders of soybeans and China is a big buyer of U.S. soybeans. The cut to orders bringing a price d rop to the crop. Schansberg said the market changes will make the soybeans easier to sell in the U.S. while creating demand for Chinese farmers to grow their own.

The overall impact to changes in tariffs and trades with powerhouses like China will leave its mark on the U.S. economy, Schansberg said, even if it shows up in other areas besides agriculture.

President Trump tweeted that this is leveling the playing field for farmers.

Heitkemper said he voted for the president because he's a smart businessman. He said he hopes that the president is right about these trade changes and hopes he can improve the markets for farmers like him.

"Hopefully, it'll turn back around. As a farmer, you've got to be optimistic," Heitkemper said.

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