Executive Briefings

U.S. Farmers Fear Trade Policy Changes

Kirk Liefer is readying his soybeans for shipment down southern Illinois's Kaskaskia River. The Kaskaskia feeds into the Mississippi, which, to a great extent, feeds China: About one-quarter of the U.S. crop goes straight to the world's biggest food market, where it gets eaten by half the planet's pigs and provides cooking oil for a rapidly growing middle class.

"Our soybeans go to China, a lot of the corn goes to Japan or Mexico," says Liefer, 39. "Almost everything that's a bulk crop goes overseas. You take that away, you ripple through the entire region."

U.S. farmers and agribusinesses are wary of the protectionism driving the trade policy of President Donald Trump, while rivals are calculating how doors closed by the U.S. could open markets for them. David MacLennan, chief executive officer of Cargill, the world’s largest grain trader, says the U.S. “cannot wall ourselves off” from world markets. He warns that protectionism can “provide famine, cause conflict and even war.”

The view is different from Brazil, where Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi, whose family owns one of the nation’s biggest soybean shippers, says his country “is back in the game,” competing for sales it had conceded to the U.S. Now the Trump administration may slow the adoption of Asian trade pacts, giving Brazil an opening.

The outcome could be a shift away from America, the world’s traditional breadbasket. Brazil, Australia, Russia, and Ukraine are well-positioned to profit from any American disruption.

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"Our soybeans go to China, a lot of the corn goes to Japan or Mexico," says Liefer, 39. "Almost everything that's a bulk crop goes overseas. You take that away, you ripple through the entire region."

U.S. farmers and agribusinesses are wary of the protectionism driving the trade policy of President Donald Trump, while rivals are calculating how doors closed by the U.S. could open markets for them. David MacLennan, chief executive officer of Cargill, the world’s largest grain trader, says the U.S. “cannot wall ourselves off” from world markets. He warns that protectionism can “provide famine, cause conflict and even war.”

The view is different from Brazil, where Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi, whose family owns one of the nation’s biggest soybean shippers, says his country “is back in the game,” competing for sales it had conceded to the U.S. Now the Trump administration may slow the adoption of Asian trade pacts, giving Brazil an opening.

The outcome could be a shift away from America, the world’s traditional breadbasket. Brazil, Australia, Russia, and Ukraine are well-positioned to profit from any American disruption.

Read Full Article