Numbers from the American Farm Bureau indicate soybean exports to China are down about 97 percent of what they were a year ago, thanks to President Donald Trump’s tariffs on China and that nation’s economic retaliation.
Indiana Farm Bureau government relations director Bob White estimates that of the roughly 30 percent of Indiana soybeans exported each year, about half are shipped to China.
This year, White says many of those soybeans haven’t been able to leave Indiana.
“Right now there are barges siting down on the Ohio River Ports of Indiana that are full of soybeans and don’t have a place to go,” he says.
And while some soybeans have been exported to other markets, including in the European Union, White says it’s not making up the difference.
“Every little bit helps, don’t get me wrong, but it’ll take many, many countries doing the same thing in order to get that back to normal, whatever normal is these days,” says White.
With a decrease in exports comes a lack of sales, he says this could mean some farmers might be forced out of business.
“Farm income is going to be drastically less than last year,” says White. “Less to the point where some farmers will not be able to continue on next year because the price is so low.”
Farmers preparing for next year’s market may see a bleak future, as 2019 doesn’t forecast profitability at the moment. In these tough financial times for farmers White says this could lead to larger farms buying up smaller ones.
“Next year you might see a consolidation of farmers,” he says. “The smaller guys will decide since they can’t get an operating loan to put the crop out, they may decide to quit.”
White says the Federal Reserve Banks of Chicago and Kansas City reports released later this year will give a better perspective of the economic impact the tariffs are having on farmers.
Indiana is one of the top soybean producing states in the United States.