Farmers face uncertainty for second year because of trade war

HICKMAN COUNTY, KY – Davie Stephens has been in the agriculture industry for more than 30 years. He says the last six years have been some of the toughest for farming since the 1980’s.

“The agriculture industry is at a situation now that it’s really hurting,” says Stephens.

This is the second year in a row that farmers are having to deal with tariffs and a trade dispute between the United States and China. Farmers say they feel the effects of the trade dispute more than anybody, because China buys a lot of American soybeans.

“Last year was more of a speculation, that we saw go into effect, but this year we’re going into it knowing that there is no resolve to it,” says Stephens.

In the big picture, the tariffs and the trade war means Stephens is losing money in an industry that continues to become more expensive to operate in.

“Inputs have gotten more expensive, machinery has gotten more expensive, and now we’re having so much of a decrease in the markets that the industry hasn’t adjusted yet,” says Stephens.

Stephens says typically around 30 percent of the soybeans produced in the US is exported to China. He says that’s a percentage they can’t afford to lose.

“When you know, you look at shipping 30 percent of your total exports into one country, 30 percent is not going to be made up else where,” Stephens says.

President Trump is trying to help ease the pain of the trade war by giving $16 billion in financial aid to farmers. Stephens was one of the farmers that recently met with the President at the White House to talk about trade. He says while he grateful the President is helping, he’d rather see a trade agreement made.

“Farmers truly at the end of the day do not want aid from the government, they want a free market they can trade,” says Stephens.

Stephens says even though things don’t look good right now, he’s still optimistic.

“Farmers are like soy beans, they are resilient, and they will figure a way out and that’s what we’ll do and we’ll do it the best way we can,” says Stephens.

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