American farmers remain uneasy about the prospects for exports because of the ongoing U.S.-China trade war. Farmers have seen China go from consistently being one of the top two export markets for U.S. crops over a decade to the fifth largest market for agricultural exports in 2018 as a result of tariffs. China’s farm purchases plunged by about half in 2018 to $9.2 billion from the previous year’s $19.6 billion. China imposed tariffs on $120 billion in U.S. exports, including soybeans, pork and other farm products, in retaliation for the Trump administration’s tariffs on Chinese imports.
Despite the preliminary trade deal Washington has agreed with China many farmers remain skeptical about how many American farm goods China will buy. “Time will tell whether they are actually committed to buy more from the United States,” said Minnesota farmer Gary Wertish, who is president of the Minnesota Farmers Union. “We want to get back to where we are taking every third row of soybeans to them in China and then at the same time keeping some of the new markets we’ve developed,” Indiana farmer Joe Steinkamp said. “Hopefully in the long run we’ll come out ahead.”