BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - On Monday, May 15, China announced it was slapping an additional $60 billion in tariffs on U.S. imports.
It’s part of a trade war that has been raging between the two countries for the better part of a year. Caught up in the middle of this are Louisiana soybean farmers.
"Currently, I still haven’t sold part of my crop from last year,” said Donald Schexnayder, a farmer in West Baton Rouge Parish.
According to the chief economist at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), more than 27 million tons of soybeans could go unsold this year.
“At this time last fall, we sold a little bit then, we sold a little bit in January,” he said. “I thought the trade dispute would have ended and we’d be in a higher price by now, so I was holding on.”
Like many others, he used to sell a large portion of his soybeans to China. Now, China is not buying and in turn, the U.S. market is flooded.
"It’s causing prices to fall, which is harmful to soybean farmers,” said Dek Terrell, the Freeport-McMoRan endowed chair of economics at LSU. “The federal government, President Trump, has actually talked about purchasing some of these soybeans and sending them to underdeveloped nations, so if that really occurred, that would provide a boost to the prices and help the farmers out.”
Despite the hardships, Schexnayder says he’s confidant President Trump will pull them through this.
“He is such a negotiator and through his life, that’s what he deals in,” Schexnayder said. “He has so much more information than I have and those of us in general have, and I’m just hoping his information he has is correct and he knows how to work the deal, the art of the deal.”
In 2018, the president bailed out farmers hit by the tariffs with $12 billion worth of subsidies. There’s no word if a similar package will be offered in 2019.