MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Trade negotiations between the United States and China have some Minnesota farmers worried. Last week, the U.S. increased tariffs from 10% to 25% on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, escalating a prolonged trade feud between the world’s largest economies.
We spoke with a board member of the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association about how it’s affecting farmers.
“It’s been a real challenge. Stuff is really tight out here in rural Minnesota,” Brad Hovel said.
Hovel raises hogs, cattle and corn on his farm in Cannon Falls. His family also farms soybeans – one of the products caught in the crosshairs of the growing trade war between the United States and China.
“You know it’s getting really tough. I mean something needs to get resolved, something needs to get done,” Hovel said.
The Chinese government is expected to retaliate for the tariff hike in coming days. China has already levied retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports in response to previous trade actions by President Trump’s administration.
“Being that ag products are our biggest, you know, exports that we have in this country that get out of here, so it is a shame that they put them retaliatory tariffs on us,” Hovel said.
Hovel says for the past few years, about 1/3 of Minnesota’s soybean crop has been sold to China.
“Hopefully we can negotiate back and forth and get a good deal struck,” Hovel said. “We gotta be able to strike deals with other folks as well.”
This Minnesota farmer says there are more reasons why it’s been hard to make ends meet. Flooding has made it difficult to deliver crops, and a large supply of soybeans from last year’s harvest mixed with low demand has led to a drop in prices.
While Hovel understands trade deals can take time, he hopes a deal is reached soon.
“The problem is we need help now – that’s kind of the crux of it is we’ve been dragging along here for a while and we need something done sooner rather than later,” Hovel said. “We understand in agriculture that no trade deal will be a perfect deal for everybody. You know there is going to be some sacrifice have to be made here and there, and the way it’s been ag has been the sacrifice here so far.”
Both China and the U.S. say trade talks will continue, but American officials say nothing is planned yet.