Michiana farmers feel the impact of the US trade war with China

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ST. JOSEPH COUNTY As China imposes retaliatory tariffs on the US, local farms are some of the many businesses to feel the impact.

“Any disruption in trade, especially with the large crop we have on our hands this year, does not bode well for US farmers,” said Betsy Jibben, a national reporter for AgDay.

“Usually when the US faces retaliatory tariffs from any country, US agricultural goods take the hit first because imports and exports,” she added. “Everyone needs a product, and usually that's an agricultural good because everybody has to eat.”

As Michiana farmers begin to harvest this year's grain, their concern is that they are losing money, especially in soybean sales; since China has slapped tariffs on US soybeans and threatened more could be on the way.

That’s a major concern for farmers, since China is the largest importer of US soybeans.

“Last year they imported over $14 billion worth of US soybeans,” said Jibben. “When you take that into consideration, one out of three US soybean rows are imported to China.”

The retaliation follows the Trump Administration's tariffs on China that were announced earlier this week.

A grain facility in St. Joseph County works with local farmers and can see the impact of these tariffs.

“Farmers are not happy that what they want to sell is not as high as it could've been without the tariffs,” said Roger Mochel, the manager of the Fricks Services facility in Wyatt, Indiana.

Some analysts say farmers could be losing $1.50 to $1.60 per bushel per acre, and that can impact the local economy.

“It trickles down into our communities, into our rural communities,” said Jibben. “They may not spend as much at the grocery store, or at the coffee shop, and so it does have a wide impact, and it's not just on the farms.”

“I think this is going to be painful for both countries and they'll figure out they need to play nice again,” said Mochel.

The US department of agriculture is offering trade assistance payments to some farmers who are facing losses.

Sign-ups for that program have already begun.