tariffs

Liam Niemeyer / Ohio Valley ReSource

Tom Folz drives around on a sunny, August afternoon and surveys the thousands of acres of dark green, leafy soybean plants and tall stalks of corn he grows on his sprawling farm in Christian County, Kentucky.

Matt Markgraf / WKMS

“Have you heard the good news?” asked Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development Interim Secretary Vivek Sarin to a room of community and economic development leaders in Murray on Wednesday. “The good news I’m talking about is in the context of economic development.” 

  West Kentucky soybean farmers continue to hurt financially from ongoing trade negotiations and tariffs between the Trump administration and China, and other countries. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he recognizes it’s been “a tough couple of years” for soybean producers.

 

law_keven/Creative Commons

The U. S. Department of Agriculture announced Thursday details of a second round of aid totaling $16 billion for farmers affected by the trade war with China. But some Ohio Valley farmers worry about the ongoing consequences of these payments and tariffs.

Nicole Erwin | Ohio Valley ReSource

Ohio Valley farmers say the latest tariff escalation between the Trump administration and China could continue to hurt their businesses, with many farmers already facing financial struggles.  

Liam Niemeyer / Ohio Valley Resource

As the Trump administration’s trade talks continue with China and other countries, farmers are feeling the pain from the president’s year-long trade war. Tariffs on agricultural goods are compounding problems caused by low crop prices and over-production, and small farmers are suffering the most.

President Trump will hold off raising tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars in Chinese imports, after what he called "very productive" trade talks in Washington this weekend.

Tariffs had been scheduled to jump from 10 to 25 percent next Saturday. But Trump agreed to postpone that increase in hopes of negotiating a more comprehensive trade agreement.

When U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer was growing up in Ashtabula, Ohio, in the 1950s, it was a thriving port town on Lake Erie where everyone who wanted one found a job. Ships brought in iron ore destined for the steel mills of Pennsylvania, and left with coal from the mines of Appalachia.

But as steel and coal have declined, the Ashtabula of Lighthizer's childhood has disappeared, taking a lot of jobs with it.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that Kentucky soybean farmers harvested a record breaking crop last year, with 103 million bushels. That’s up one percent from the previous year. The increase was due mainly to more acreage, with 50,000 additional acres of soybeans planted across Kentucky last year.

But that record harvest is facing market forces impacted by America’s tariff and trade disputes, especially with China.  Some Kentucky soybean farmers are storing the beans, trying to wait until market conditions improve. 

White House video

As President Donald Trump addressed farmers at a national conference Monday, Ohio Valley agriculture leaders said they are standing by his effort to renegotiate trade deals. But some leaders cautioned that costly tariffs on farm products need to end soon.

President Trump doubled down on his fight for better trade deals during his speech to American Farm Bureau Federation members at their convention in New Orleans.

“We’re turning all of that around with fair trade deals that put American farmers, ranchers and in fact put America first,” Trump said.

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