- American farmers are struggling to sell their products as tariffs introduced during the trade war between Washington and Beijing stifle demand.
- In certain states, farmers are being forced into ploughing their crops under – effectively burying them under soil in fields – as there is simply not enough storage room in storage facilities.
- The problem is most acute for soybean farmers, as China generally buys about 60% of US soybeans but has basically stopped purchases since tariffs began.
American farmers are struggling to find storage for crops that would usually be sold overseas, with some being forced to leave produce rotting in fields as a last resort, as the trade conflict between the US and China continues.
Farmers in some US states are being forced into ploughing their crops under – effectively burying them under soil in fields – as there is not enough room to store them in storage facilities, and they are unable to sell their products thanks to Chinese tariffs,Reuters reported on Wednesday.
All grain depots and silos are almost full, meaning farmers have to find their own storage solutions or allow their crops to rot. Neither option is particularly palatable.
The problem is most acute for soybean farmers. China is the largest importer of soybeans in the world, but since the start of the trade war it has slapped US soybeans with a 25% tariff and turned to Brazil in an attempt to meet domestic demand.
Chinese purchases generally make up about 60% of all US soybean exports, according to the Farm Credit Administration, but those exports have practically stopped since the tariffs were introduced.
In Louisiana, as much as 15% of this year’s soybean crop has been plowed under or is too damaged to sell, according to data analysed by Louisiana State University staff and cited by Reuters.
The Trump administration has started a program of subsidies meant to lessen the impact of his trade war on US agriculture.
In August, the administration launched a $US4.7 billion initial investment plan aimed at helping those farming corn, cotton, dairy, hog, sorghum, soybean, and wheat.
The program could expand to as much as $US12 billion. But according to Reuters, less than $US900 million has been paid out so far.
Tensions between the two sides appear to be waning, with the US signalling a more conciliatory stance when it comes to tariffs. President Donald Trump has reportedly sidelined some of his most aggressively anti-China team members, with Peter Navarro, an uber-protectionist trade adviser, among those given a back seat.
The most significant sign that the US and China might actually come to some agreement came last week after reports surfaced that Beijing sent a letter to the Trump administration outlining possible concessions.
So far, the US and China have traded tit-for-tat tariffs on goods totaling $US360 billion, with the US acting as the aggressor, and Trump threatening numerous times to place tariffs on all US imports from China, worth about $US500 billion.