An article in the Aug. 8 issue of the Ledger detailed how this year’s unusually heavy rainfall had adversely affected Jeff Davis County’s farmers.
But the weather isn’t the only problem local farmers are facing.
The trade war between the United States and China threatens to severely curtail the amount of U.S. agricultural products sold to China. Hardest hit will be the soybean and cotton sales.
According to an article in the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, the tariffs imposed on China’s goods sold in the U.S. were brought on by a $375 billion trade deficit in 2017. Last year, the U.S. imported approximately $506 billion in products from China and exported over $130 billion.
The Trump administration proposed and implemented a series of tariffs on products imported from China which led to retaliatory actions by the Chinese government.
China’s first retaliation was to suspend tariff reduction obligations and add an additional 25% tariff on pork and 15% on fruits, nuts, wine, ginseng and ethanol. That would impact roughly $2 billion worth of U.S. agricultural exports.
The U.S. responded with another $50 billion worth of tariffs and China responded in kind. Agricultural products included in the second round of China tariffs were worth approximately $16.5 billion. Those products include cotton, the second-highest U.S. export by total value, after soybeans.
What effect the tariffs will have on the U.S. agricultural industry is not entirely clear. But, judging by past instances of tariff impositions, it is expected that China will begin importing more cotton from Vietnam, India and Pakistan. And U.S. cotton growers will have to search for other countries to export their cotton to make up for the expected lost sales to China.
Jeff Davis County Agent Jennifer Miller expects that U.S. farmers will be okay in the long run.
“I think they’ll be okay,” she said. “It’s going to hurt at first but I believe we’ll find other countries to sell our cotton to.”
Meanwhile, local farmers are hoping for some dry weather — and a clearing up of the tariff issues.