A farmer in Bowling Green fears the worst—China’s proposed tariffs on their number one target, soybeans, could mean years of loss or even shutting the farm down.
Something his family has been doing for over half-a-century.
Andrew Alfred is a husband, a father, and a farmer.
“My grandparents moved this farm across the road in the 1950’s and they’ve been farming ever since,” Andrew says as he stands on the land.
In March, the Chinese Commerce Department announced they will impose new tariffs on over 100 U.S. goods totaling roughly fifty billion dollars in imports and twenty-five percent tariff on their number one target—sixty percent of Andrew’s crops—soy beans.
“Soybean’s are a big part of our family’s income and our livelihood,” Andrew explains, “farm income is down almost fifty percent since 2013 and any additional problems with the income will be devastating to the local farm economy. Also, if steel and aluminum increase that means our cost of production is going to increase on tractors and equipment. When the farm economy is already down, any additional hits are really going to affect us.”
Any additional loss will be devastating he says,
“breaking even during tough years is bad enough but if we have several years of loss on the farm, we may not be able to keep farming.”
Agriculture Specialist at SKYCTC and friend of Andrew’s, Mike Bullock agrees, “soybeans years ago were selling for eighteen dollars a bushel,” he says, “now they’re ten dollars a bushel.”
The morning after China’s announcement, soybeans dropped nearly forty cents a bushel—a projected crop of over four billion bushels in 2018 lost over one-point-seven billion dollars in value in a matter of hours.
“One out of every three rows of soybeans goes to China,” Andrew says, “if that market is hurt then the farmers are going to feel that. It gives you an idea of just how much is at stake.”
Decades of producing this cash crop and now it’s slipping right through the farmers fingers.
“You build relationships with these farmers, these families. I’ve seen his kids be born,” Mike says, “and then to see the struggles that are occurring now, we haven’t had this happen since back in the mid 1980’s. Most of us are homing it’s a smoking gun type thing, that they’re playing politics. When they’re playing politics, they’re affecting lives.”
While the future of the farm is uncertain, Andrew is not. Rain or storms, this farmer will still be waiting for the sun to shine tomorrow.
“Farming is my livelihood and I love it. I don’t get up everyday and think I have a job,” Andrews says, “I get up everyday and farm because it’s what I love to do.”
Andrew is optimistic. He plans to plant his first soybean seeds of the season this month.