More SD Producer Frustration As Tariffs Escalate

May 13, 2019

Credit Kealey Bultena / SDPB

As trade talks stall, China is imposing retaliatory tariffs on $60 billion worth of US goods. These new tariffs come days after the US increased tariffs on over $200 billion on Chinese goods.

The tariff exchange is testing the patience of South Dakota producers.

Scott VanderWal is the president of the South Dakota Farm Bureau. He says South Dakota producers have been dealing with lack of a marketplace for over a year now. Especially for soybeans.

VanderWal says farmers have already been through one harvest season without an agreement in place. He says that’s causing prices to remain lower than they should.

He says now is normally a good time for farmers to sell, but farmers aren’t getting that better price because the market is concernd about trade talks with China.

“I’m hearing more frustration all the time as we’re going to the field, now,” VanderWal says. “We’ve been through one year of this and now we’re looking at another year. Most people are at break even or less already. We’re looking at opportunities to improve our marketing and grab some higher prices, but right now they’re not coming to us because of that.”

Over the weekend, President Trump suggested on Twitter that the US will use money raised from tariffs to buy agricultural products from farmers and ship it to “poor and starving countries in the form of humanitarian assistance.”

VanderWal says that idea is similar to the market facilitation program, except the government didn’t buy the commodities.

“I’ve heard talk that maybe they would use it for food aid for other countries and things like that,” VanderWal says. “Again, that’s money coming out of Americans’ pockets when you do that. Farmers would very much rather get their income from the market and not have to worry about government payments or programs of various types.”

Meanwhile, wet fields are adding to farmers’ frustrations.

VanderWal says everyday that passes compromises yields, which have helped with low prices. He says low markets and lower yields could make this year a very different story.