May 11, 2019 - Economy

Farmers across the Midwest struggle to cope with Trump's trade war

In this image, soybeans are being loaded into a grain silo.

An Illinois farmer loads soybeans from his grain bin onto a truck before taking them to a grain elevator. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The New York Times recently interviewed farmers and agricultural leaders in Iowa, Indiana, Nebraska and North Dakota to gauge their responses to another round of U.S.-China trade negotiations ending without a deal. China has been a longtime buyer of Midwestern crops.

What they're saying: Some farmers remain hopeful that a deal can be reached, but most have had to cut costs to cope — like going without health insurance, delaying equipment purchases and crop sales, and scaling down livestock operations.

“Many people are just torn because people want to support the president of the United States. But it’s very stressful to be in the middle of these very challenging negotiations. Because you’re the person who can’t take hope to the banker to get his loans for operating.”
— Nancy Johnson, executive director of the North Dakota Soybean Growers Association

By the numbers: The personal income of farmers in the U.S. declined by an annualized $11.8 billion between January and March, the biggest 1st quarter drop in 3 years. President Trump raised tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods from 10% to 25% on Friday, as he previously threatened to do.

Go deeper: Trump's trade war: Where American workers are hit hardest

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