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Go deeper: How one crop illustrates the China trade war that wasn't

Two farmers with backs to the camera harvest sorghum
Farmers cutting sorghum in New Mexico. Photo: Education Images/UIG via Getty Images

A look at the trials and tribulations of one U.S. agricultural product, sorghum, tells the story of how the U.S. reached the brink of a trade war with China — then swiftly retreated.

The big picture: Sorghum growers and exporters were caught in the middle of a U.S. and Chinese trade policy fight so volatile that it stranded sorghum-laden American ships before they reached their destinations in China.