Soybean growers ask Trump to meet on tariffs
March 13, 2018
In a signal that soybean growers are terrified that President Donald Trump's tariffs will cause China to retaliate by reducing imports of soybeans, the American Soybean Association wrote to Trump, asking him to "modify if not reverse" the tariffs and to meet with them about the issue.
ASA President John Heisdorffer, an Iowa farmer, wrote March 12, "In the last 10 years, China has become by far the largest customer for U.S. soybeans. In 2017, China imported 1.4 billion bushels from the U.S. — 61 percent of our total exports and nearly one out of every three rows of soybean production. The importance of the China market in sustaining our livelihoods and our industry's role in the nation's agricultural and rural economy cannot be overstated."
Heisdorffer wrote to Trump that he wanted to dispel the assumption that whatever market share the United States loses to Brazil and other South American growers can be made up with sales to other markets.
"In the case of soybeans, this argument fails to recognize that our largest competitor, Brazil, is continuing to expand soybean production on new lands," Heisdorffer said. "Brazil is already the world's largest soybean exporter, including to China, and would respond quickly in the event U.S. trade actions trigger retaliation against our soybean exports.
"As an export-driven industry, we believe agriculture can make a powerful contribution to reducing the nation's trade deficit if the administration pursues policies that enhance our competitiveness rather than reduce our access to foreign markets," Heisdorffer added.
"Please consider meeting with us and other successful export-driven agricultural industries to discuss how we can work together to achieve our common goal of reducing our national trade imbalance," he concluded.
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ASA noted that its members are in Washington for meetings this week.