Will Trump’s tariffs sink U.S. agriculture?
Farmers in the United States are struggling to overcome an interrelated series of challenges that have driven many of them to the brink of financial failure. The most recent arose when some of the biggest U.S. trading partners imposed tariffs on U.S. agricultural products in retaliation for the Trump administration’s imposition of levies on those countries’ exports to the United States. This has come on top of a steep decline in crop prices, a sharp reduction in the farm labor supply, rising interest rates, climate change and a congressional stalemate over a new farm bill. “It’s all coming down on us at once,” said one Iowa soybean farmer. As many as one-fifth of that state’s small farmers could go under in the next two years, some Iowa bankers predict.
Here are some key takeaways:
Farm commodity prices have fallen by 50 percent in the past five years, the greatest percentage drop since the Great Depression.
Agricultural products make up 10 percent of total U.S. exports, and 20 percent of total U.S. farm income is derived from exports.
Farm debt has more than doubled since 2000 and will reach the highest level in history this year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Resources for Further Study
Elliott, Kimberly Ann, “Global Agriculture and the American Farmer: Opportunities for U.S. Leadership,” Brookings Institution Press, 2017. An economist explores the harm caused by government subsidies for U.S. farmers, the federal mandate to use biofuels and the overuse of antibiotics in U.S. meat exports.
Qaim, Matin, “Genetically Modified Crops and Agricultural Development,” Palgrave and Macmillan US, 2016. A professor of international food economics analyzes how genetically modified crops can contribute to sustainable agricultural development and food security.
Daniels, Jeff, “Tough times in the heartland as some farmers hit by losses weigh exiting the business,” CNBC, Dec. 27, 2017, http://tinyurl.com/
Linke, Maureen, and Josh Zumbrun, “Chinese Tariffs Hit Trump Counties Harder,” The Wall Street Journal, July 6, 2018, http://tinyurl.com/
Reports and Studies
“Climate Change Impacts in the United States,” National Climate Assessment, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
“Trade War Rhetoric Shifts to Reality,” CoBank Knowledge Exchange, June 2018, http://tinyurl.com/
Bronars, Stephen G., “A Vanishing Breed: How the Decline in U.S. Farm Laborers Over the Last Decade Has Hurt the U.S. Economy and Slowed Production on American Farms,” Partnership for a New American Economy, July 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Muhammad, Andrew, and S. Aaron Smith, “Evaluating the Impact of Retaliatory Tariffs on U.S. Soybeans in China,” Institute of Agriculture, University of Tennessee, May 4, 2018, http://tinyurl.com/
Schnepf, Randy, “U.S. Farm Income Outlook for 2018,” Congressional Research Service, Feb. 27, 2018, http://tinyurl.com/
The Next Step
Oates, Bryce, “In Farm Country, Grappling With the Taboo of Talking about Climate Change,” Civil Eats, July 11, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/
Patel, Neel V., “Can Carbon Farming Reverse Climate Change?” The Daily Beast, July 17, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/
Purdy, Chase, “The world’s biggest farms pollute more than any oil company,” Quartz, July 19, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/
Bierschbach, Briana, “Minnesota is considering doubling its number of rural mental health counselors. To two.” MinnPost, March 28, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/
Ivanova, Irina, “Farmers in America are facing an economic and mental health crisis,” CBS News, last updated June 29, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/
Walrath, Rowan, “Stressed, Struggling, and Suicidal: America’s Farmers Are Begging for Mental Health Services,” Mother Jones, April 9, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/
The Agribusiness Council
P.O. Box 5565, Washington, DC 20016
A communications network encompassing small and medium-sized agribusiness companies, university/research institutions and other nonprofit organizations, as well as public sector agencies relating to farming.
Agricultural & Applied Economics Association
555 E. Wells St., Suite 1100, Milwaukee, WI 53202
This membership organization provides agribusiness professionals with information for applied economics in the fields of the environment, natural resources, food and consumer issues.
Agriculture Network Information Collaborative
10301 Baltimore Ave., Room 115, Beltsville, Maryland 20705
This group, affiliated with the Agricultural Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, connects researchers to an alliance of institutions that provide access to quality agricultural information and sources.
American Farm Bureau Federation
600 Maryland Ave., S.W., Suite 1000 W, Washington, DC 20024
The nation’s largest farm lobby, advocating on behalf of farmers and ranchers. With affiliated branches in every state and U.S. territory, the organization analyzes problems facing the farming and ranching communities, crafts policies to solve them and lobbies lawmakers.
International Food and Agribusiness Management Association
5775 Wayzata Blvd., Suite 700, Minneapolis, MN 55416
A group that brings together top executives, academics, policymakers and other stakeholders to stimulate strategic thinking across global food, plant and forestry systems.
The National Agri-Marketing Association
11020 King St., Suite 205, Overland Park, KS 66210
An association for professionals in marketing and agribusiness.
North American Agricultural Marketing Officials
1320 Research Park Drive, Manhattan, KS 66502
An international organization of farm marketing officials who provide advice and services to state and international food industries.
United Agribusiness League
54 Corporate Park, Irvine, CA 92606-5105
A membership organization that advocates for agribusiness employee benefits with state and federal lawmakers and educates members on compliance with state and federal regulations.