President Trump’s trade war has cost U.S. farmers one of their biggest customers. China stopped buying U.S. agricultural products in response to Trump raising tariffs on $300 billion of Chinese imports. According to CNBC, farmers are struggling more than ever with the trade war and the extreme heat destroying their crops.
“It’s really, really getting bad out here,” said North Dakota farmer Bob Kuylen. “Trump is ruining our markets. No one is buying our product no more, and we have no markets no more.”
China imported $19.7 billion in agricultural products in 2017. By 2018, that number fell to $9.2 billion. This year, China’s U.S. imports are down around 20%.
Kuylen lost $70 per acre this year. Although government subsidies help a little, they only cover around $15 per acre.
“There’s no incentive to keep farming, except that I’ve invested everything I have in farming, and it’s hard to walk away,” he said. “When four to five generations ahead of you have succeeded, and you come along and fail, you don’t see it as not your fault. You snap.”
The president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, Zippy Duvall, said China’s slowing imports is a “body blow to thousands of farmers and ranchers who are already struggling to get by.”
Illinois farmer Allen Williams said that subsidies have covered about 8% of his receipts this year.
“I’m very grateful to get subsidies, but they won’t result in making a loss into a profit for most grain farms,” he said. “And I don’t think it’s right for the American taxpayer to subsidize this segment of the economy just because of what I see as a mistake of a trade war.”
Despite Trump’s “mistake of a trade war,” farmers seem to be remaining loyal to Trump. Among farmers, the president’s approval rating is 79%.
Mike Knipper, an Iowa grain farmer, said, “It doesn’t matter who is president. People like Trump and will support him, and few will change their ideas.” He continued, “Everyone’s willing to see this through, and those government subsidy checks might help them get by for another year.”
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