U.S. farmers are struggling to replace Chinese buyers of their products. As part of the trade war between the U.S. and China, the country announced in August that it would cease buying American farm products. In 2018, China had been the fourth-largest buyer of U.S. agricultural goods, accounting for exports worth almost $6 billion and purchasing around 60 percent of U.S. soybeans.
In the nine months leading up to May, U.S. soybean exports to China had already fallen by 70 percent compared to the same period one year earlier. Replacement buyers are still not found, according to agricultural conglomerate Land O’Lakes, which represents more than 2,000 producers. The cooperative’s CEO, Beth Ford, warned that farmers were at risk of losing their livelihoods over the trade dispute.
Record-setting floods that harmed crops in the spring, coupled with an epidemic of African swine fever, have also worsened conditions, especially for producers of animal feed like soy. The Trump administration addressed concerns saying that farmers would receive federal aid worth $28 billion, of which $14 billion has been paid out. Yet, farmer advocates pointed out that the subsidies were going to large farms predominantly, leaving smaller producers out in the rain.
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