Trade tensions frustrating US farmers

Source:Xinhua Published: 2019/5/27 11:40:34

The US trade tensions with China are frustrating American farmers despite Washington's promise to make them "one of the biggest beneficiaries."

The White House unveiled last week a 16-billion-US-dollar aid package for farmers hurt by the ongoing trade row ignited and escalated by the United States.

Yet the National Farmers Union said the "temporary" fix will not offset the "permanent damage" inflicted upon farmers losing a share of the Chinese market, and agricultural economists said it is self-destructive to US interests.

"It's difficult to see how US farmers ... would be the biggest beneficiaries," said Anton Bekkerman, an agricultural economics expert at Montana State University.

"We want markets, not tariffs, and have encouraged the administration to continue to work to resolve the trade war," said John Youngberg, a lifetime farmer and executive vice president of Montana Farm Bureau.

"All my research finds that the protracted trade war is a net negative for American agriculture," he added.

Despite the chorus of warnings, the US administration of President Donald Trump has been reluctant to back away from such claims that trade wars are "easy to win" and will not damage "long-term" US interests.

"All the Trump administration's trade tactics have done is to hurt America's hardest working people," said David B. Richardson, a former member of the Florida House of Representatives.

Voices of concern and calls for an early end of the US-China trade row can be heard across America's "farmbelt," which includes Iowa, a leading state in soybean output.

"Soybean growers have been particularly hard hit and that is starting to spread to other markets," Youngberg told Xinhua.

Grant Kimberley, a sixth-generation soybean farmer and marketing director of the Iowa Soybean Association, said he and his peers hope some quick and positive changes could be made.

US soybean exports to China have been down 89 percent over the past year, and about half of the supplies that would normally have gone to China have now gone somewhere else, with farmers "still at a deficit for net total exports," Kimberley told Xinhua.

"It's likely the trade dispute could be a long-term reality," he said. "With prices going lower and soybean supplies growing, and with only modest hope that a resolution is near, we're likely to be mired in this scenario for some time."

"For some farmers, the crop they're currently planting may be their last," he said.


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