While U.S. tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum will have a financial impact on the company, Deere is "much more worried" about possible trade retaliation targeting American agricultural products, Chief Executive Officer Sam Allen said.
"If China no longer buys U.S. soybeans or Mexico no longer buys U.S. corn, that would be really bad for our customers and that would be much more impactful on us," he said this week in an interview at a company factory in Indaiatuba in Sao Paulo state, Brazil.
About one-third of U.S. agriculture is exported, Allen said. That trade flow could be in jeopardy if President Donald Trump follows through on repeated threats to quit the North American Free Trade Agreement, or if China imposes tariffs or quotas.
Any curbs on U.S. export earnings risk stifling a rebound in farmers’ incomes just as signs emerge of a recovery in agricultural commodity prices.
"After four years of record harvests, for the first time we’re seeing a potential reduction" in supply as a result of Argentina’s drought,” Allen said. "We can already see global grain reserves going down and they don’t have to go down much further for commodity prices to go up."
Timely, incisive articles delivered directly to your inbox.