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Missouri Farmers Not Optimistic About An End To The Trade War With China

Friday is the deadline for U.S.-China trade talks. If they fail and China's 25-percent tariff on soybeans goes into effect, Missouri farmers will feel the impact.
jasonippolito | Flickr
Soybeans like in this file photo are a crop that has been hurt by the ongoing trade war.

The trade war with China is nearly a year and a half old, and farmers say there is no end in sight.

Farmers in Missouri and Illinois will receive a second round of federal payments to make up for losses from the ongoing trade war with China. Tariffs have reduced the demand for U.S. agricultural products.

Blake Hurst, president of the Missouri Farm Bureau, said the farmers he is talking to are not optimistic there will be a resolution soon.

Hurst was in a meeting with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue earlier this month when Perdue said he was optimistic a deal with China could be reached by the end of the year.

Hurst said that was good news, but farmers are wary about such predictions from the Trump administration.

“You’ve seen lots of optimistic comments followed by meeting cancellations or tweets that kind of reversed progress and reversed feel,” he said.

The trade-aid payments on the way are part of a $14.5 billion package the Trump administration approved to help farmers affected by the trade dispute.

Most farmers in Missouri and Illinois will receive $25 to $45 per acre, except for southern Missouri farmers, who will get a little less, according to the American Farm Bureau.

“For most farmers, those payments are going to be the difference between operating at a loss or breaking even or with a small profit this year,” Hurst said. “That’s not a good position to be in.”

Hurst said farmers he talks to are still publicly supporting the president, for now.

“Privately, when they meet with their bankers, when they go over the checkbook with their business partners and their spouses, I would imagine that support has a limit,” Hurst said. 

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Jonathan is the Rolla correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.