Well, the trade war has begun and the early returns for farmers are not good — sharp reductions in the prices for soybeans and corn. You may have heard that Arkansas, which overwhelmingly supported Donald Trump, has some agricultural interests, particularly in soybeans.
As you can see, prices began to slide in late May. That’s when the Trump team made one of its epic zigzags; after having putting its trade beef with China on hold for few weeks, the administration suddenly reiterated its tariff threats, and added Mexico, Canada, and the European Union to the mix. China is by far the biggest buyer of exported US soybeans; Mexico holds that position for corn.
The current slide comes at a precipitous time for US farmers. They have about 179 million acres of the two crops growing in their fields—a combined land mass equal to nearly two Californias, and just 1 percent less than last year’s plantings. To make a profit on these crops, farmers will have to make at least $4 per bushel on corn and $10.05 on soybeans for the 2018 harvest, a University of Illinois analysis found. Currently, the two commodities fetch $3.43 and $8.40, respectively.
Meanwhile, vast portions of last years’ bumper harvest remain unsold. Soybean farmers churned out a record 4.39 billion bushels in 2017—and more than a quarter of it is still sitting in grains bins waiting for a buyer, according to figures recently released by the US Department of Agriculture. Meanwhile, farmers and grain elevators had to stockpile 5.31 billion bushels of corn, more than a third of last year’s harvest.
I’ll leave it to the state’s Party of Trump (POT) delegation in Washington — Sens. Tom Cotton and John Boozman and Reps. French Hill, Steve Womack, Rick Crawford and Bruce Westerman — how this is really a good thing.