How The Trade War Affected A Medina Soybean Farmer

Tom Trout of Hickory Tree Farms in Medina County stands beside his tractor.
Tom Trout of Hickory Tree Farms in Medina County. [Mark Urycki / ideastream]
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It was a wild ride for Ohio farmers this year. President Trump’s trade war with China cut off exports for many farmers, and it’s affecting their plans for 2019.

After President Trump announced tariffs on Chinese steel this spring, China retaliated with a 25 percent tariff on American soybeans and other agricultural products. Medina County farmer Tom Trout says the export market for soybeans completely dried up and prices dropped.

“You give the market what it wants, and right now it’s telling us it does not want more soybeans,” Trout said.  

The Trump administration handed out about $9.5 billion in payments to American farmers to make up for some of their losses.

“We got $1.60 a bushel for the beans that we did produce this year so that did help, especially with any forward contracting that was done ahead of time,” Trout said. “You put $1.60 on that, it makes this year survive.”

U.S. and Chinese officials will have a face-to-face trade meeting in January, and in a good faith gesture, China made its first buy of American soybeans in mid-December. 

But looking ahead Trout believes Ohio farmers won’t rely on exports again and will cut back on soybean acreage or look to the domestic market to sell their beans as feed.

“The cattle market has good prospects, the hog market,” Trout said. “I guess if you can’t haul the grain off the farm, you walk it off the farm. That’s the better way to do it.”

The big soybean suppliers to China now are Brazil and Argentina and Trout says they are having good growing seasons.

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