Soybean farmers in North Dakota are experiencing significant economic hurt thanks to President Donald Trump’s trade war, and some of them aren’t sure their ability to trade with China will ever be fully restored.
The New York Times reports that soy farmers have been particularly hurt by retaliatory tariffs leveled against them by China, which accounts for more than half of the $26 million worth of soybeans America exports every year.
“I’m trying to follow and figure out who the winners are in this tariff war,” said farmer Greg Gebeke. “I know who one of the losers are and that’s us. And that’s painful.”
Things have gotten so bad that Gebeke’s wife, Debra, has recently unretired from her job as a psychologist because there’s such great demand for counseling among distraught farmers.
Even if Trump comes up with a trade deal to restore ties with China, some soy farmers fear that China will nonetheless start importing more soybeans from competitors to reduce the risk of being at the mercy of the United States during future trade fights.
“I’ve been to China 25 times in the last decade talking about the dependability of U.S. soybeans,” Kirk Leeds, the chief executive of the Iowa Soybean Association, tells the Times. “We have done long-term damage to the industry.”