Farm Bureau assessment: farmers losing big in trade disputes

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St. Joseph Post

An economic analysis of the impact of our current trade dispute with China indicates the losses could be huge for farmers.

The Nebraska Farm Bureau has issued a report which estimates producers in that state could lose $943 million due to retaliatory tariffs imposed by the U.S. on other countries.

Nebraska Farm Bureau economist Jay Rempe says some producers will absorb a larger impact than others.

“Well, soybeans is the biggest one just because of the situation with China and our lost markets there, but then corn is another big one and pork, I think for a couple of different reasons, one is obviously China. They’re importing more pork right now, because of the African Swine Fever in that country. They’re trying to make up for those losses and we’re not able to participate in that,” Rempe tells St. Joseph Post.

The report considers the impact of all trade disputes, but concentrates heavily on the dispute with China. Rempe notes losses could be lessened with approval of the new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico as well as a new deal reached with Japan.

Rempe says the report issued by the Nebraska Farm Bureau doesn’t even take into account beef exports, because it’s harder to analyze losses to the beef industry.

“You saw China. We just opened the beef markets there,” Rempe says. “There was just a lot of potential there, because when you look at their per capita beef consumption in China it’s very low compared to most developed countries like the United States or Europe. So, there was a lot of potential there.”

The report does not consider farm payments pledged by the Trump Administration to farmers to offset the losses from the trade disputes. Pending trade deals with Canada and Mexico as a recently announced deal with Japan would help greatly, according to Rempe.

It does consider the overall impact on the state. Nebraska relies heavily, more so than other Midwestern states, on agriculture. The Farm Bureau analysis pegs the total income loss to the Nebraska economy at $1.16 billion.

Rempe says that during a recent trip to Washington he didn’t hear much optimism that the standoff with China would end anytime soon.

“Almost to a person, they don’t look for a quick turnaround or a quick resolution of the Chinese issue, because of the complexity some of the issues we’re trying to deal with on them and some of the politics involved.”