Agricultural Aid Package Helpful to Rural America But No Remedy to Protracted Trade War With China

Statement courtesy of Iowa Soybean Association President Bill Shipley who grows soybeans near Nodaway in southwest Iowa.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s announcement of almost $3.6 billion in aid to soybean farmers provides short-term assistance to rural America struggling under severe economic stress. It is not a long-term remedy to sharply declining commodity prices resulting from a trade war with China.

For a soybean farmer growing 400 acres of soybeans with a yield of 60 bushels per acre, a payment of roughly $1.65 per bushel for half the farm’s total production equals about $20,000. For perspective, soybean prices have declined by more than $2 per bushel since March, negatively impacting that same farmer nearly $50,000.

Farmers want positive movement on trade agreements and exports, not aid. Farm families and rural communities are experiencing real financial pain. This pain is likely to get worse before it gets better. Twenty-eighteen is indeed the year of the trade war story, but 2019 is the bigger story if this trade war continues.

Now is not the time for continued uncertainty for U.S. agriculture and the millions of jobs it directly impacts.  In the last two months, USDA has raised its estimate for soybean production in 2018 to a record 4.6 billion bushels, reduced its estimate for soybean exports in the 2018-19 marketing year by 230 million bushels, and projected an 82 percent increase in soybean carryover stocks to 785 million from 430 million bushels by September 2019.

This combination makes a swift resolution more critical each day as farmers prepare for harvest and to meet with lenders, suppliers and land owners to plan for next year. Time is of the essence to resolve the trade war.

Not funded by soybean checkoff

The Iowa Soybean Association (www.iasoybeans.com) develops policies and programs that help Iowa’s more than 40,000 soybean farmers expand profit opportunities while promoting environmentally sensitive production using the soybean checkoff and other resources. The association was founded in 1964 and is governed by an elected volunteer board of 22 farmers. It strives to be honest and transparent, fact-based and data driven and committed to environmental stewardship, collaborations and partnerships.