DINWIDDIE COUNTY, Va. — Soybean farmers are seeing a drop in prices since talks of the trade tariffs between the U.S. and China started, according to the Virginia Farm Bureau.
U.S. soybeans are a major export internationally. Every third row of soybeans is sent to China. Last year, about $585 million of agricultural exports from the Commonwealth were exported there, $360 million came from soybean crops, according to Tony Banks from the Virginia Farm Bureau.
There’s been a drop in soybean prices in futures trading, which is when there’s an agreement to buy or sell a commodity at a predetermined price at a specific time in the future. Between January and May 2018, futures trading for soybean commodities ranged from $10 to $10.70.
They’ve since fallen to around $8.50.
“Prices have dropped 20 percent. Two dollars a bushel or so since the talks have started,” Nick Moody from the Virginia Soybean Association said.
Moody’s family has owned about 1,300 acres in Dinwiddie County since the 1940’s. They started growing soybeans within the past few decades.
“It’s been kind of passed down,” he said. “A lot of hard work, but there’s a lot of pride in being a farmer.”
He’s worried about what will happen during the fall harvest of his soybean crops. That’s when Moody will know how much money he’ll make for the year.
“What bean growers and farmers in general really need is stable markets. You know, it’s hard to budget and manage accordingly when there’s huge shifts in prices and input prices,” Moody said.
But the market hasn’t been stable with the recent taxes on imports between the U.S. and China. He’s seeing the decreasing demand for soybeans abroad.
President Donald Trump announced Tuesday a new $12 billion plan to help farmers, like Moody, affected by the tariffs. The plan would provide direct assistance to farmers and purchase excess crops.
The money will also be spent on trade promotion with new markets.
Farmers and state officials say it’s a good first step, but the markets still need to be brought back to where they were before.
“It might be a short-term band-aid, but we need to go back to business as usual,” said Tony Banks from the Virginia Farm Bureau.
Banks says these farmers have been building relationships with places like China for decades, and these tariffs put a strain on those partnerships that will be felt for years to come.
“It doesn’t bode well for the American farmer going forward,” Banks added. “[A check] isn’t going to help erase the potential market losses that we’re looking at.”
As for Moody, he just wants to make sure he can keep up the family business.
“We’re not in it for the money,” he said. “We just want to get by and we enjoy what we do.”
Federal and state officials are still hashing out how much of the subsidies will be going to Virginia farmers. Once we get that information, we’ll give you an update.