Now, a year later, he’s finding buyers overseas and the soybeans he harvested last week are heading down the Mississippi River to an export port. Even though he’s not quite back to where he was before the trade war, Walton’s willing to overlook the heartburn it caused.
“The trade issues with China have not been put to bed yet, but I think Trump has made great progress and he could continue that progress if he gets another turn,” said Walton, an independent voter. He added that while he hasn’t completely made up his mind, he’s concerned that former Vice President Joe Biden might be weaker on trade.
Soybean farmers were hit especially hard by Trump’s trade war. Exports to China, their biggest market, slowed to a trickle during the past few years. The price for soybeans plummeted and the amount in storage reached record highs.
But China restarted buying American soybeans just in time for this year’s fall harvest. That’s great news for farmers — and for Trump.
Trump has sent billions of dollars in federal assistance to farmers over the past few years, including about $23 billion in payments to help make up for losses due to the trade war and another $10 billion earlier this year to help them weather the pandemic.
“We’re not going to quite make the goal in the phase one deal, in part because China started buying too late in the year,” said Grant Kimberley, a farmer and director of market development at the Iowa Soybean Association.
“But if they continue on this pace, we might get over it next year. It’s looking really good,” he added.
“As a constituency, farmers feel like they’re not always represented. I think they were tired of losing trade battles every few years and then four years ago someone recognized them and was ready to start a trade war,” said Brian Philpot, CEO of AgAmerica, a nationwide agricultural lender.
“That resonated and is some of the reason that support seems to be holding in many areas,” he added.
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