Midwestern farmers are seeing soybean prices fall as the U.S. and China remain at odds over trade and tariff issues.

Kirk Leeds, chief executive officer for the Iowa Soybean Association, says soybeans are one of Iowa’s top crops and this continued spiral in prices is disheartening. “China is very, very important for Iowa farmers,” Leeds says. “From soybean farmers in particular, they buy about 60% of all the soybeans traded in the world. Anything that causes a potential disruption in our ability to sell high-quality soybeans to a customer like China is very, very concerning.”

The initial concern came when the Trump Administration threatened to put high tariffs on steel and aluminum coming from China and China responded with threats of raising tariffs on a list of American goods, including soybeans.

“None of these tariffs are yet in place but just simply the threat of tariffs and counter-tariffs has been enough to drive soybean prices down,” Leeds says. “As you all know, at a time when farmers are already struggling to make ends meet, to have this kind of potential disruption in trade is very, very concerning.” Leeds says he and other members of the Iowa Soybean Association are in contact with the Iowa delegation in the U.S. House and Senate.

“The administration has promised that they will take a look at some way to compensate farmers for the loss of income,” Leeds says. “I’m kind of skeptical that we’re going to find anything that they’ll actually follow through on and anything that’s WTO-compliant. So, it’s really troubled times and uncertain times.”

Leeds says they’ve gotten tremendous support from both Iowa U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst as well as from the U.S. Ambassador to China, Terry Branstad, a former Iowa governor. Leeds says he’s taken around 25 trips to China over past 35 years, working to develop the trade relationship.

(By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)