US farmers are in for tough times after virtually losing out on their biggest market China because of the protracted trade war between their country and the second largest economy of the world.
And the hope now lies in new markets for them to export their produce.
But comparison of other possible markets based on last year’s figures does not appear to be very encouraging, For example, compared to imports of about 3000 metric tons of U.S. soybeans by Sri Lanka in 2017, about 32 million tons were imported by China. But Sir Lanka does not virtually none following China’s imposition of a 25 percent tariff on U.S. imports in July in a retaliatory tariff imposition by Beijing to respond to U.S. duties on Chinese goods by the Trump administration.
In order to compensate for the loss of the Chinese market, about 11,000 markets the size of Sri Lanka have to be found by US soybean farmers.
But given the current situation, US farmers would opt for any chance of business that they can lay their hands on. There is a small but growing section of US farmers who are now themselves taking measures to create and develop new markets as they have virtually lost hope of a diplomatic solution to the trade war and the opening up of the Chinese market once again. And according to producers, industry officials and trade lobbying groups, farmers are also trying to the salvage existing markets that have been disrupted by tariffs.
A section of US farmers are also now lobbying with US lawmakers, participating in overseas trade trips, and inviting prospective foreign buyers at in the process often even neglecting their farm duties.
This year, some of the farmers even attempted to join politics by entering politics as Democratic candidates, but success has been limited. Denny Wolff, who is a fifth-generation Pennsylvania dairy farmer, lost elections for a Congressional seat. Similar was the fate of Michael Evans, a Mississippi poultry farmer.
He’d rather talk directly to importers than trust the task to Washington, Harre, 29, a third-generation dairy and grain farmer, told Reuters in an interview.
“I could care less about the politics, to be honest,” he said. “We’re lacking people advocating for us. If someone’s going to be telling our story, I’d rather it be myself.”
The US agri-economy is facing financial woe for the fifth year in a row because of oversupply which has given rise of to the grassroots movement. The price of corn and soybean are near historic lows, and there has been huge growth of stocks of unsold grain of US farmers which has been aggravated by this year’s bumper harvest.
“If we can get buyers to step away from the politics and see us as people, we can get them to trust us – even if they can’t trust Washington,” said Doug Schroeder, a fifth-generation farmer in Bellflower, Illinois. “If we can do that, they will want to buy from us again when the trade war ends.”
(Adapted from WallStreetReporter.com)