As Their Soybeans Pile Up, Farmers Hope Trade War Ends Before Rot Sets In

U.S. farmers face a tough choice: sell at a loss or store the beans in hopes that prices rise before the rot sets in.

As Chinese orders for U.S. soybeans have virtually ground to a halt, American farmers have been forced to store the fruits of their hard work, in hopes that prices rebound before the beans rot.

According to The New York Times, federal data shows that sales to China have dropped an astounding 94 percent through October of this year as compared to last year’s harvest.

The steep decline in orders has hit North Dakota soybean farmers particularly hard, as the majority of their beans usually head straight for China — America’s largest soybean market.

> This is harvest season in the rich farmlands of the eastern Dakotas, the time of year Kevin Karel checks his computer first thing in the morning to see how many of his soybeans Chinese companies have purchased while he was sleeping.


> Farmers here in Cass County have prospered over the last two decades by growing more soybeans than any other county in the United States, and by shipping most of those beans across the Pacific Ocean to feed Chinese pigs and chickens.

But this year, farmers face a tough decisions: sell at a loss or wait out Trump’s trade war in hopes that prices rise before the rot sets in.

“We’re sitting on the edge of our seat,” Karel told The Times.

> Some farmers in North Dakota say they trust Mr. Trump to negotiate in the nation’s interest. Mr. Karel said many of his customers wear red “Make American (sic) Great Again” caps and insist that the pain of lost business and lower profits is worthwhile. They say they’ll suffer now so their children benefit later — echoing the argument Mr. Trump has made.


> Others are less enthused. Greg Gebeke, who farms 5,000 acres outside Arthur with two of his brothers, said he struggled to understand the administration’s goals.


> “I’m trying to follow and figure out who the winners are in this tariff war,” Mr. Gebeke said. “I know who one of the losers are and that’s us. And that’s painful.”

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