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Soybeans, a crop almost exclusively produced by farmers in the GOP's rural base who voted overwhelmingly for President Trump in the 2016 election, are a key inclusion on China's list of 106 U.S. products that will be subject to retaliatory tariffs.

Expand chart
Data: Department of Agriculture; Map: Chris Canipe/Axios

The bottom line: In 2016, soybeans accounted for 12% of U.S. exports to China, per MIT's data. And American farmers ramped up production of soybeans in part because the Chinese were buying in such massive quantities. Now, that source of revenue is in jeopardy.

The backdrop...

  • Politically-motivated tariff retaliation isn't new, Thomas Duesterberg of the Hudson Institute tells Axios. "The Europeans have become experts at that. Everybody's learning from them," he says.
  • When then-President Bush announced steel tariffs in 2002, the European Union threatened retaliation aimed at Florida, a sensitive state for Bush. Now, the Chinese are using moves against U.S. agricultural products and manufactured goods, such as automobiles and planes, to hit Trump's core voters.
  • Kirk Leeds, CEO of the Iowa Soybean Association told the Des Moines Register: Tariffs create "a lot of market disruption at a time when farmers can't afford any disruptions ... For farmers on the edge, this could be very detrimental."

Yes, but...

  • Trump is fulfilling a campaign promise — that he'd be tough on China — made to industrial workers in his base. And "there are a lot more of those people than there are farmers ... That's probably the political calculus that Trump is employing here," says Duesterberg.
  • And the farming community has ways of seeking recourse, he says. Many American farmers stopped growing corn and wheat in favor of soybeans as the Chinese market grew, and they have the option of switching back.
  • Farmers are also protected by price floors on agricultural goods — a market advantage industrial workers don't have. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue tweeted: "The president has assured me he won't let our farmers bear the brunt of China's retaliation."
  • "You've also got to understand that Trump is going to get support from the other side of the aisle on this ... That mutes the damage to him to a certain extent," according to Duesterberg.

Go deeper

Biden to raise refugee admissions cap to 125,000

Afghan refugees arrive at Dulles International Airport after being evacuated from Kabul. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Biden administration will raise the refugee admissions cap to 125,000 for the next fiscal year beginning in October, the State Department confirmed in a statement Monday.

Why it matters: The move comes as the U.S. contends with resettling tens of thousands of Afghan refugees stateside, and as the world faces "unprecedented global displacement and humanitarian needs," the department wrote.

Wall Street's wobble disrupts record stock market boom

People walk by the New York Stock Exchange earlier this month. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Monday interrupted a stretch of calm amid the historic stock market boom underway since March 2020.

Driving the news: Jitters were apparent nearly everywhere.

2 hours ago - Health

First Texas doctor sued for performing abortion in violation of new law

Abortion rights activists march to the house of US Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in Chevy Chase Maryland, on Sept. 13, 2021, following the court's decision to uphold a stringent abortion law in Texas. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

A San Antonio physician is facing a lawsuit after he admitted performing an abortion considered illegal under Texas' new law.

Why it matters: The civil suit, filed by a convicted felon in Arkansas, against Alan Braid is the first such suit under the law that allows private citizens to sue anyone who helps a pregnant person obtain an abortion after six weeks.