Illinois farmers are dealing with the effects of a retaliatory tariff imposed by China on soybean imports.
A 25-percent Chinese tariff on American soybeans was imposed by the country in response to the Trump administration’s steel tariffs on China. For Illinois farmers, the impact could be severe because they face depressed soybean prices even if they find a buyer.
“I can tell you that the day they announced the tariff, we lost $20 an acre on our farm, and that was not the full impact of the tariff,” said Doug Schroeder, vice chairman of the Illinois Soybean Association and owner of a 4,000-acre soybean and corn farm near Mahomet, Illinois.
“It is really tough. Twenty-five percent of Illinois soybeans used to go to China, and now virtually none of them do,” he said.
Farmers are scrambling to find storage space for the soybeans they can’t sell, which is creating more challenges and raising costs.
“It’s really been devastating,” said Schroeder. “There hasn’t been a demand for the beans to go anywhere, so they just pile up.”
While Illinois soybean farmers are still selling their harvest to Indonesia, Taiwan and Mexico, the demand just isn’t there for what is expected to be a record soybean crop this year.
“The bottom line is if you add up all the other countries, it doesn’t amount to what China used to buy, and that’s how big of an impact that one country had on our industry,” said Schroeder.
Illinois is the top producer of soybeans in the U.S. Soybeans are also the second-largest export for the state. Schroeder stated that if Illinois was a country, it would be the fourth-largest producer of soybeans in the world.