Another Phony Story about “Trade War” Woes for Farmers

January 8, 2020

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trade-china-agriculture-insight/u-s-farmers-see-another-bleak-year-despite-phase-1-trade-deal-idUSKBN1Z20CK

This above-linked article about suffering on American farms caused by Trump’s “trade war” with China was posted on Reuters last week.  I’ve been sitting on it, waiting for the latest trade data (which was posted yesterday by the Commerce Department) to refute the claims in the article.  This seems to have become a favorite tactic of the globalist media – trying to get Americans – especially farmers, a key component of Trump’s base of support – up in arms over the tariffs he imposed on China.  The article leads you to believe that American farmers had a horrible year, thanks to China retaliating against the tariffs by stopping their purchases of American agriculture products – most notably soy beans.  Here’s some samplings from the article:

… U.S. farmers are stuck with fields full of weather-damaged corn – a crop they planted after the U.S.-China trade war killed their soybean market.

As the U.S. farm economy reels from the worst harvest in decades after nearly two years of the trade war, U.S. grain growers are struggling to decide what crops might keep them in business.

China has … deepened ties with rival exporters such as Brazil and Argentina. Brazilian soy cultivation is expanding after record exports to China in the past year and China is investing in South American ports.

The article makes no mention of the fact that European nations have now turned toward the U.S. for their supplies, having been displaced from the South American market.

Many U.S. farmers have tried shifting crops to dodge the economic fallout from losing such a crucial export market. They planted 76.5 million acres of soybeans in 2019, 14.3% fewer than the previous year, according to the latest U.S. Department of Agriculture data. U.S. plantings of sorghum – used in livestock feed and the fiery Chinese liquor baijiu – dipped about 7.5% in 2019, to 5.3 million acres. Plantings of cotton have dropped, too, as China pulled back on purchases.

Come on, Reuters, isn’t the real reason that fewer acres were planted this year the fact that vast swathes of farmland were still under water in the early summer as a result of spring flooding?  I guess they want you to forget that factor.

“The agricultural system is completely broken” because of the trade war, severe weather and mounting farm debt, Hora (an Iowa farmer) said. “We have to farm smarter.”

The fact is that, in terms of exports, American farmers actually had a pretty good year.  According to the trade report released yesterday (see page 20), exports of “food, feeds and beverages” were actually up slightly year-to-date through November, rising to $123.998 billion in 2019 from $123.247 billion in 2018.  Soybean exports are up dramatically to $21.687 billion from $17.583 billion in 2018.  Other categories are up or down sightly with the exception of corn, which is down by $4.638 billion compared to last year.  (The Reuters article did note that severe weather had damaged a lot of the corn crop.)

Don’t get me wrong.  It’s a struggle to survive for farmers, even in the best of times, especially for small family farms that are being driven out of business primarily by big corporate farms.  But in spite of poor weather conditions, American farmers have actually had a pretty good year in terms of exports.  Yes, exports to China are down, but those have been offset by exports to other countries that had been sourcing from South America.  The people of the world still need to eat, and so do livestock, regardless of what’s happening with trade policy.

Pay no attention to these fake stories about the “trade war” hurting farmers.  The globalists are desperate to put a bad spin on tariff policy, especially as their other dire warnings about economic doom have been proven false.  The November trade report has even more good news about the impact of the tariffs.  I’ll post about that next.