In a recent survey, most Indiana farmers say the Trump administration's trade policy is putting their operations in “jeopardy.”
Farmers have seen a 50 percent drop in income over the last five years according to the Indiana Farm Bureau. In a recent survey conducted by the organization of about 450 farmers from around the state, 72 percent said the effects of U.S. trade policies were putting their farm operations at risk.
Indiana Farm Bureau President Randy Kron says surpluses of corn and soybeans has increased the supply in recent years, and lowered prices. He says farmers need access to more markets to make a profit.
“We have to find markets and that’s more than what we’re gonna use domestically and we need to be shipping products around the world,” he says.
This comes as farmers are already struggling with poor economic and weather conditions. The rains have prevented many farmers from being able to plant corn.
“We’re supposed to be in the tractor today, not sitting in the shop,” says Kron.
Federal data shows only about 14 percent of the corn has been planted in Indiana so far. That’s compared to 86 percent at the same time last year.
Kron says in previous years, farmers could switch from corn to soybeans. He says that’s not a great option this year because of the trade war with China.
“China was our number one purchaser of soybeans for a number of years,” he says. “Now, they haven’t gone to zero, but they’re buying very, very little from the U.S. anymore and it’s just having an impact. And you’re talking about people’s livelihoods.”
According to the Indiana Farm Bureau, several agricultural commodities have had large declines in market value due to the trade disputes over the last year between China and the United States.
Kron says the challenges farmers are facing currently could impact some’s mental state.
“Between the trade issues, the weather, it just adds a lot of stress. So I mean I would say I’m concerned, and at the Indiana Farm Bureau we’re concerned of farmers’ mental health too,” says Kron. “Because when you add all this extra stress, bad things can happen sometimes and we want to be aware of it and help and farmers that are in need.”
Another round of financial assistance to farmers struggling from trade disputes has been suggested, similar to last year. However, many farmers have said they would rather have open markets than another hand-out.
Last week President Donald Trump announced steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada and Mexico would be lifted in a move to encourage U.S. legislators to ratify the new trade agreement between the three countries.