Soybean farmers brace for US, China trade war

POSEY CO., IN (WFIE) - Family farmers in the Tri-State are bracing their businesses after China slaps tariffs on soybeans.

"It won't be just the farmer that's going to be hurt, it will be the entire community that will be hurt in the long run," said Posey County Farmer, Mark Seib.

The U.S. Soybean market is already jolted less than a week after China slammed tariffs on the U.S.

It's in retaliation for the $34 billion dollars in tariffs imposed on goods coming in from China.

We know farming can be a gamble, but the tariffs are making things even riskier.

Farmer Mark Seib, who also serves on the United Soybean Board, says he exports a big portion of his crop, and prices are falling.

"I think that's what you'll see, is that the farmers will not buy and invest in new machinery," explained Seib. "They'll try to cut back on their expenses, trying to find any way they can to save a penny or a dollar."

Some local farmers we spoke to say they're afraid they'll be ruined if this tariff fight drags on for too long. For smaller family farms, one season could literally cost them everything.

"That's what we are facing right now," said Seib. "We're looking at 8 percent below imports into China currently on soybeans. And right now, the price here at my local elevator is $8.56 a bushel. Two months ago it was $10. That's how much of a fall it has already had so far. Then if it gets worse, they're talking about another at least 10 to 20 percent decline yet again."

According to the Indiana Soybean Alliance, farm incomes are down nearly 50 percent from 2013 already.

We spoke to Purdue Extension Agent Hans Schmitt, who says the region is home to 750,000 acres of farmland.

This past crop season alone, southwest Indiana farmers sold more than 42 million bushels of soybean, much of that to China.

"We don't know how long this will last, and if this will escalate," Schmitt said. "Our goal is to stay positive. I'm trying to assist in providing any information that I can."

Schmitt says it's just a waiting game for farmers right now.

It's too early to tell the impact long-term, but as those market prices continue to fall, the fear factor is definitely settling in.

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