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Local Farmer Welcomes New Trade Agreement with China

a photo of a trailer of soybeans
A full trailer of soybeans sits at a farm in Ohio in winter 2019.

A Portage County farmer welcomes the signing of a trade agreement with China Wednesday. The truce asks China to respect intellectual property laws in exchange for the U.S. reducing some tariffs.

The first phase of the trade agreement is the starting point of recovery for many Ohio corn and soybean farmers who were impacted most by the trade war.

Farmer Chuck Sayre from Mantua said China has bought less corn and soybean exports for the last several years. He said the tariffs added to the existing problems with American agricultural exports.

He said the relief programs put into place weren’t able to help those who needed it the most.

“Your small family farm that doesn’t do the big corporate things to get every dollar out of the government. It really hurt those farmers.”

Sayre said small farming operations don’t have the resources they need to apply for government aid. He said they’ve dealt with the damage of the trade war for too long.

Shouldering the burden of the trade war

“The soybean farmer in the U.S. took on that responsibility to straighten out the trade deal for everything else, and we don’t mind shouldering that burden. But we wanted it to be done quickly. So it’s taken longer than what we have hoped.”

Sayre said although they can sell crops to China, the price point might still be too high for Chinese buyers. He said equipment costs for American corn and soybean farmers outweigh those of other countries that aren’t required to meet similar emissions standards.

China has found cheaper places to buy from in the meantime, but Sayre said he sees increased possibilities with soy-based meat imitations and ethanol that offer sustainable paths for farmers.