‘It could break a lot of people’: Iowa farmers bear the brunt of Trump’s ‘ugly’ trade war with China

Iowa farmers are bearing the brunt of the U.S. trade war with China as Donald Trump continues to threaten increased tariffs on Chinese imports.


According to a report by the Des Moines Register, corn and soybean farmers are “[struggling] to feel optimistic” as the industry faces a series of daunting challenges, including retaliation from China over increased tariffs.

The president on Friday took to Twitter to boast about the “very congenial” talks between the U.S. and China while also claiming “the process has begun to place additional Tariffs at 25% on the remaining 325 Billion Dollars.”

“Tariffs will bring in FAR MORE wealth to our Country than even a phenomenal deal of the traditional kind. Also, much easier & quicker to do,” Trump claimed. “Our Farmers will do better, faster, and starving nations can now be helped.”

For now, the farmers are only feeling the “physical and mental challenge” as China says it will retaliate against any new U.S. tariffs.

"A lot of us think it can't get any worse, that it can only go up from here,”  northern Iowa farmer Brent Renner told the Register. “But that's probably not a safe bet.”

Tim Bardole, president-elect of the Iowa Soybean Association board, said the best solution would be an agreement between both countries.

"An agreement that is fair to both countries is really the light at the end of the tunnel that I'm hoping for,” Bardole told the Register.

"A lot of producers are in serious financial pain,” he continued. “How long we can survive and handle it, I don't know.’

Kirk Leeds, CEO of the Iowa Soybean Association, told the Register that soybean farmers have historically “been the tip of the spear when it comes to Chinese retaliation.

“I'm not sure they can take much more,” Leeds said, noting the tariffs have "undercut any remnants of optimism.”

"That's what's most devastating about this,” he explained.

Renner, the northern Iowa farmer, echoed that diminished optimism, telling the Register while he hopes “things turn around pretty quickly,” if the current situation stands “it could break a lot of people.

“There's no other way to look at it,” he said. “It's ugly."

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