Last November, China imported zero soybeans from the U.S.—a massive hit to U.S. farmers, given that Chinese markets alone made up half of the U.S.’s total soybean exports, spending $12 billion on the commodity two years ago.
China has instead shifted to buying from farmers in Brazil, causing soybean futures to drop to $8.025 per bushel for July on Monday. Earlier, they fell below $8, the lowest price in the past 10 years, the Los Angeles Times reports.
“We’re getting a little taste now of what soybean prices will look like if this trade deal doesn’t come to fruition,” said University of Illinois agricultural economist Todd Hubbs in a recent weekly analysis of crops, “and it isn’t pretty.”
Bloomberg’s grain total return subindex also fell to its lowest level in over 40 years. Farmers have expressed fear that the tariffs could cause “permanent damage … on agricultural export markets” as foreign agricultural sources gain global market share.
Michigan farmers lamented that “the noose is getting tightened a little bit more than it was before” following China’s recent tariffs on $60 billion of U.S. goods.
“China was our biggest soybean customer, and they’re not moving,” said Michigan Agri-Business Assn. president Jim Byrun. “China was the biggest opportunity for us to export pork, and they’re not buying because of the tariffs…. The new Chinese tariffs? Sure, it’s going to hurt even more.”