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Farmers forced to let crops rot, unable to sell to China amid trade war

Farmer Mark Catterton drives a John Deere Harvester while harvesting soybeans during his fall harvest on October 19, 2018 in Owings, Maryland. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

As harvest season comes to an end, U.S. farmers are being forced to let thousands of dollars worth of crops go to waste as a consequence of the trade war with China, Reuters reported.

Specifically, China's 25 percent tariff on soybeans has made it difficult or impossible for many farmers to sell their grain to China -- so the crops are left to rot.

"No one wants them. I don't know what else to do," soybean farmer Russell Altom told Reuters.

Can't sell, can't store: Normally, if farmers were having trouble selling their grain, they'd simply pay to store the grain -- but because there is a backlog of grain and less available storage room, the cost can be as much as twice or three times as expensive for storage as in previous years.

"I've never seen things this bad," Altom said. "I know several farmers who hired lawyers, to see if they can sue over the pricing and fees issues."

Planted more than normal: In an instance of unfortunate timing, famers planted the second-largest soybean crop ever this year -- 89.1 million acres. They expected China to purchase more than normal before the tariff changed the equation. Over the past 10 years, China has purchased 60 percent of the world's soybean exports.

Government aid helping ease the pain: Reuters reported that $837.8 million of the government's $12 billion aid package has been paid out to farmers to support them during the trade dispute with China.

Resolution soon? President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have indicated they are optimistic about the potential of reaching a trade deal with China. But recent comments from Chinese President Xi Jinping might contradict that.

Xi reportedly said the U.S. needs to "reject arrogance and prejudice" in tense trade talks with U.S. officials over the weekend.

(H/T The Hill)


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