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Soybeans farmers are seeking to save their trade relationship with China as President Trump's ongoing trade war threatens to dismantle the market, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The big picture: Retaliatory Chinese tariffs on soybeans have sunk exports, chipping away at one of agriculture's most profitable products. In 2017 alone, the U.S. shipped $21 billion in soybeans abroad — tripling numbers from the past two decades. But in 2018, that number fell 74% by volume, leading to recent prices paid to U.S. farmers plummeting to a seven-year low.

What they're doing: Soybean interests are doing their best to maintain their existing relationships, the Journal notes.

  • The Soybean Export Council will host a trade exchange for Chinese customers in Illinois next month.
  • Jim Sutter, the chief of the council, also visited one of China's largest grain traders in April to discuss resuming relationships once the tariff situation ends.
  • Director of the American Soybean Association Joe Steinkamp recently met with Chief Agricultural Negotiator for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Gregg Doud to discuss his worries about a thinning market burdening young farmers with difficult financial conditions.
  • Cargill Inc., a commodities company, spoke out against Trump's proposal to add tariffs to $300 billion worth of Chinese products in a June letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

Where it stands: The administration earlier this year issued a second aid package worth $16 billion to affected farmers, while last year's announced package was worth $12 billion. Yet, the tariffs still remain as China begins to seek alternative suppliers and other soybean giants -- mainly Brazil -- creep in on the market.

Go deeper: Trump declares China trade truce

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