Local soybean farmer reacts to China’s retaliatory tariffs

Farmers across the nation are feeling a bit uneasy due to what many are calling a trade war between the U.S. and several other nations. Soybeans alone, represent 60 percent of this country’s 20 billion-dollar agricultural exports to China, and now China is implementing new tariffs against soybeans.

Andrew Alford, a soybean farmer out of Edmonson County, is already feeling the effects.

“There’s approximately 100 acres of soybeans all around us,” Andrew says as he gestures towards the crops covering his farmland, “we have several dollars invested in the crop.”

The Alfords’ have several thousands of dollars invested, as 60 percent of their crops are soybeans.

“Soybean prices have continued to decline and with tariffs coming into effect today,” Andrew explains, “we already started seeing the [effect] a month ago.”

As the U.S. slapped levies on 34 billion-dollars’ worth of Chinese goods, China says it had “no choice” but to strike back by matching those tariffs on U.S. products, including a 25 percent tariff on soybeans.

“Farmers—we know what our input costs are but we don’t get to pick what we sell our price as, so we’re at the mercy of the markets and with margins being as tight as they are, it’s really hard to make a profit when we have the tariffs and things like that going on,” Andrew says.

The Alford family has been farming in Edmonson County since the 1950’s and have felt the pain of the markets, but a trade war won’t just affect those like Andrew, working the fields.

“For example,” Andrew says, “in Edmonson County, just in the price decline from the tariffs—that’s taken almost 1 million dollars out of the economy, and for Warren County, that’s almost three million dollars out of the local economy just from the price decline since the tariffs began.”

75 percent of Andrew’s expected soybean crops are contracted already at a set price to be purchased. He says he doesn’t plan to quit growing the crop. He’s hopeful this won’t be long-term.