Soybean prices plunge to fresh lows as Trump's trade war persists

Scott Olson/Getty ImagesSoybean harvesting in Minnesota.

Soybean prices dropped to a near-decade lows Friday as President Donald Trump showed no signs of backing down on threats to impose $US200 billion worth of additional tariffs on China, the world’s largest soy importer.

Soybeans prices fell to $US8.26 a bushel for November delivery, the lowest level since late 2008. Prices have shed nearly 20% since March, when the Trump administration announced intentions to penalise China for what US officials found to be “unfair” trade practices.

The Trump administration enacted a 25% tariff on roughly $US34 billion worth of Chinese goods last week. Beijing retaliated with in-kind tariffs on American products, including soybeans.

For John Heisdorffer, president of the American Soybean Association and farmer in Iowa, the tariffs come at a challenging time.

“Farmers are already dealing with low commodity prices and a down farm economy, and the price of soybeans has continued to drop since tariff rhetoric first began,” Heisdorffer said.

“China is not a market that appeared overnight,” he said, adding that farmers have worked with the Department of Agriculture for decades to develop foreign markets for soybeans.

The summer months are a popular time for American farmers to sell soybeans to China, according to economist Kevin McNew of Farmers Business Network. He said China has bought about 2.5 million metric tons of soybeans on forward contracts he expects will be cancelled.

Trump has threatened to impose tariffs on nearly all Chinese imports to the US. On Tuesday, he said a list of 10% tariffs on another $US200 billion worth of Chinese goods is being prepared. An additional $US200 billion could be targeted, the president had earlier warned, if Beijing retaliated on such a move. Officials vowed they would.

Additionally, the administration has another set with a trade value of $US16 billion pending for public hearing. Those could be ready as soon as August.

Soybeans are down 14.7% over the past year.

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