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Trump to visit Iowa this week as farmers reel from trade war

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Products using soybeans are sold at a store in Beijing. China is the world's single largest importer of soy, and it buys roughly 30 percent of all U.S. soybeans. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI

By Jessie Higgins, UPI
EVANSVILLE

President Donald Trump plans to visit Dubuque, Iowa on Thursday -- a state reeling from the impact of the president's trade war with China.

Iowa Rep. Rod Blum's office confirmed the president's visit Monday. Though Trump's schedule was not public Monday afternoon, he will likely face questions from Iowa farmers who stand to lose millions of dollars this fall if the trade dispute with China is not resolved.

[post_ads]"He's not going to come to Iowa and not hear about the impact of the trade dispute," said Aaron Putze, a spokesman for the Iowa Soybean Association. "There is a lot of angst in the agricultural community and rural America right now."

On July 6, China imposed $50 billion in tariffs on American exports, which includes a 25 percent tariff on soybeans. The move was retaliation for tariffs the United States placed on Chinese goods.

Since the tariff was enacted, the price for American soybeans has dropped roughly 20 percent, said Chad Hart, an economist at Iowa State University. If prices do not rebound, Hart estimates Iowa soybean farmers will lose $624 million this year. Across the Midwest, economists at Purdue University estimate farmers' losses will exceed $3 billion.

There is still time to save farmers from the bulk of these losses, Hart said. But only if China removes its soybean tariff before fall harvest time, when America's soybeans hit the market.

"That's when potential losses become real losses," Hart said.

As harvest time steadily approaches, farmers are left with no option but to wait and hope that the two governments reach a resolution in time.

For now, there are few signs of that happening.

"There's been a lot of talk about the impact of the tariffs, but there's not been a lot of talk about how they're going to resolve it," Putze said. "And each day is one day closer to harvest season. Anxiety is rising."
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If left unresolved, the long-term impacts of the Chinese tariff are difficult to predict, Hart said.

"For individual farms, it's going to be a mixed bag," Hart said. "Some farmers have the financial reserves to weather this. For those already struggling going into this year, it will be harder to bear. This will force a few farmers out of business."

Nationally, the impact is even harder to predict.

China is the world's single largest importer of soy, and it buys roughly 30 percent of all U.S. soybeans. The tariff, which is a tax Chinese buyers pay the government to purchase the commodity, ensures Chinese buyers will buy from other countries.

"In the long term, this could cause anti-American sentiment to take root in China toward American agricultural products," Putze said. "If that happens, the impact of these tariffs could last a generation or two. So, let's resolve this now and get back to trading."

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