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Delaware soybean farmers say they don’t want their crops used as a bargaining chip

Susanne Zilberfarb
Delaware Soybean Board

The Chinese Government announced Wednesday, that if the Trump Administration imposes tariffs on steel and aluminum it would respond with tariffs on a list of items including soybeans and corn. Farmers in the First State say that would severely reduce their annual income.

Delaware had a record grow for soybeans last year with 51 bushels per acre yield. But the price has dropped in the last few years. It was more than $17 a bushel in 2012 and it’s now hovering at just over $10 a bushel.

About one third of soybeans grown in the U.S go to China. If China’s proposed 25% tariff was in effect last year, it would’ve cost Delaware farmers collectively about $6 million.

Camden Farmer and former Chairman of the American Soybean Association Richard Wilkins says it reminds him of trade embargoes in the 1980s, which he says harmed U.S. agriculture.

“And now here are in a similar situation in using food as a bargaining chip in trade,” said Wilkins

Wilkins says if the tariffs were put into place they could be disastrous for young farmers who have gone into debt to get their start in the industry. He says he believes in free trade and thinks prompting a Chinese tax on soybeans would place an unfair burden on farmers.

“Agriculture in the United States has been asked repeatedly to make sacrifices for the betterment of the general economy. We’re not in the position,” said Wilkins.

The ASA said in a release that the tariff would have a devastating effect on every soybean farmer in America.

President Trump has tweeted out the U.S. “can’t lose” a trade war with China.