Trade uncertainty is a top concern for some Kentucky soybean industry representatives. Those sentiments were expressed at the 13th annual Soybean Promotion Day held at Murray State University on Tuesday.
Kentucky Soybean Promotion Board Chairman Davie Stephens expressed concern over President Donald Trump’s decision to leave the Trans-Pacific Partnership--a 12 nation trade agreement, including several South American and Southeast Asian trade partners.
"It's very disappointing for TPP not to have been acted on, and we have actually spoke with President Trump on making sure he knows that TPP is important to the Kentucky soybean farmers and the American soybean farmer," Stephens said.
Stephens said Trump’s decision is discouraging because 60 percent of U.S. soy is exported. According to the United Soybean Board, Mexico alone counted for more than 14 percent of soybean meal and oil exports in 2014. According to the US Department of Agriculture Kentucky harvested 1.8 million acres in 2016.
Stephens said the ramifications of what Trump replaces TPP with will be very important to how farmers keep trade relations.
WGN Radio Agribusiness director Orion Samuelson said he is optimistic for the soybean industry’s potential dealings with China.
“Our biggest customer, China, cannot afford to have hungry people,” Samuelson said. “I think the need for feeding people will probably override the politics going on between the Trump administration and China.”
Samuelson said it’s too early to tell what impact Trump’s decision to leave TPP will have, but is interested in possible new changes to trade agreements.
DTN (an agribusiness company) Senior Analyst Darin Newsom said some agricultural organizations were aware that TPP had no chance of being implemented with the new administration.
“It’s not as big of a concern as other trade agreements, but the fact that we may not be getting into a pacific trade agreement at all is a concern,” Newsom said.
“The Kentucky boards as well as everyone wants to see an emphasis on trade. They like the idea that the new administration is focused on trade, but I think this upheaval to renegotiate NAFTA, to stay out of TPP, to get into a verbal trade war with China-- all of these things could have agriculture nervous,” Newsom said. “One of the things I talk about is the key to these markets is ‘demand.’ Anything that starts to make demand questionable is a problem for agriculture.”
The 13th annual Soybean Promotion Day was sponsored by Murray State University's Hutson School of Agriculture and the Kentucky Soybean Board. Samuelson and Newsom appeared as featured speakers. The event included seminars and dinner.