Kankakee County farmer Keith Mussman is similar to many others — half his crop is soybeans, the other is corn.
After President Donald Trump recently announced steel and aluminum tariffs, China promised to retaliate. This week, the Associated Press reported Chinese buyers are canceling orders for U.S. soybeans. And the Chinese government is encouraging farmers to grow more soybeans.
Mussman, president of the Kankakee County Farm Bureau, said he has no plans to change his planting strategy in coming years because of the possible trade war.
If farmers increased corn acreage in response to Chinese actions, Mussman said, that probably wouldn’t help much. That’s because increased corn supplies would bring down prices, he said.
“If the Chinese don’t buy from us, they’ll buy from someone else,” Mussman said. “Our biggest concern at the end of the day is that other parts of the world such as South America will expand production.”
Chad Miller, manager of the Kankakee County Farm Bureau, said agriculture is the only component of U.S. trade with a positive balance.
“We’re a bullseye for foreign countries when they hit back at us,” he said.
Mussman said he realizes there are inequities in trade agreements that politicians have done nothing but talk about. When the United States fights to eliminate the inequities, he said, the agricultural community shouldn’t have to bear the brunt of retaliation.
“Let everyone bear a bit of the pain,” he said.
About two-thirds of U.S. soybeans and a third of corn are exported, Miller said.
“A big part of our marketplace is exports,” Miller said. “Exports are very important for the profitability of farms.”