The Christian Science Monitor

Hard times in farm country coincide with a trade war – echoing 1980s

Roger Zetocha is ready to harvest soybeans that nobody wants.

It’s not the quality of the brown plants in the field, which is so good it’s expected to produce a record crop nationwide. It’s not the rain that fell overnight, making the black earth still sticky this particular morning.

The trouble is China. In retaliation for US tariffs on many of their goods, the Chinese are no longer buying US soybeans. As a result, crop prices have plunged, squeezing farmers’ already shrinking income, especially here in North Dakota. Given the ominous clouds that are already gathering over agriculture, the soybean embargo has producers worried, especially older ones who remember earlier crop embargoes that turned out badly.

“I’m afraid that we’re seeing the same scenario set up again,” says Mr. Zetocha, near the town of Stirum. “[President] Trump is talking about putting more tariffs on China,” unless a bilateral deal is reached. “Even if they

Farm income down 40 percentFor younger farmers, new lessonsThe risks of falling land pricesHope, glimmering on the plains

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