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Soybean prices sunk to a 10-year low after the trade war escalated and left little hope that China — the world's biggest soybean importer —would resume buying U.S. soybeans.

Expand chart
Data: FactSet; Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

Why it matters: Soybean farmers are once again at the center of a heightened trade war — targeted strategically by China. Some fear the damage may be irreversible. "We spent 40 years developing this trade relationship with China and in one fell swoop, it was all taken away," Bret Davis, a fourth-generation soybean farmer, tells Axios.

The big picture: The trade war is not just hitting the stock market. The commodity market has also been roiled — with prices for wheat, corn, pork and cotton falling — because of oversupply and flooding, which has exacerbated the trade war pain and caused sharp drops in farm income and increased bankruptcies.

  • "We have to borrow money to put out our crop and the way it looks right now, it's going to be difficult to pay that money back," Davis, who runs a 3,500-acre farm Ohio, (a top soybean exporting state) tells Axios.
  • Soybean farmers — who have depended on China for big soybean purchases for years — have fared the worst, as China purchases from the likes of Brazil instead. U.S. soybean shipments to China dropped to a 16-year low in 2018.

The bottom line: President Trump said the government was planning a second round of farm aid since the trade war began, worth $15 billion.

  • But Joe Brusuelas, an economist at consulting firm RSM U.S., warns "it may be difficult to repair damaged trade connections," causing prolonged pain beyond repair, as Brazil ups its soybean production thanks to more demand from China.

Go deeper

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Sources say Beto plans Texas comeback in governor’s race

Former U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke speaks during the Georgetown to Austin March for Democracy rally on July 31, 2021, in Austin, Texas. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke is preparing to run for governor of Texas in 2022, with an announcement expected later this year, Texas political operatives tell Axios.

Why it matters: O'Rourke's entry would give Democrats a high-profile candidate with a national fundraising network to challenge Republican Gov. Greg Abbott — and give O’Rourke, a former three-term congressman from El Paso and 2020 presidential candidate and voting rights activist, a path to a political comeback.

Texas doctor says he performed an abortion in violation of state law

Pro-choice protesters march down Congress Avenue and back to the Texas state capitol in Austin, Texas, in July 2021. Photo: Erich Schlegel/Getty Images

A Texas doctor disclosed in an op-ed in the Washington Post on Saturday that he has performed an abortion in violation of the state's restrictive new abortion law, which effectively bans the procedure after six weeks.

Why it matters: Alan Braid's op-ed is a direct disclosure that will very likely result in legal action, thereby setting it up as a potential test case for how the abortion ban will be litigated, notes the New York Times.

Mike Allen, author of AM
6 hours ago - Technology

Axios interview: Facebook to try for more transparency

Nick Clegg last year. Photo: Matthew Sobocinski/USA Today via Reuters

Nick Clegg, Facebook's vice president of global affairs, tells me the company will try to provide more data to outside researchers to scrutinize the health of activity on Facebook and Instagram, following The Wall Street Journal's brutal look at internal documents.

Driving the news: Clegg didn't say that in his public response to the series. So I called him to push for what Facebook will actually do differently given the new dangers raised by The Journal.