Schmidt’s forebears have farmed the same land outside Iowa City for nearly 150 years. He and his father together till about 2,500 acres of the fertile prairie that stretches from Ohio through Nebraska. When I reached him, he was on his tractor, spreading fertilizer on this year’s corn crop.
Apart from the weather, hardly any issue looms larger for farmers than the prospect of retaliatory tariffs against American agriculture products. China has threatened a 25 percent tariff on soybeans and has already sharply curtailed purchases from the United States. Last week Mexico imposed a 20 percent tariff on pork. The European Union and Canada have said they, too, will slap tariffs on a variety of American agricultural products.
“China is our most important export market for soybeans,” Schmidt said. “When your most important customer hits you with tariffs, there are going to be serious ramifications. My first reaction was this is going to hit us pretty hard.”
Grant Kimberley, who with his father farms 4,000 acres near Maxwell, Iowa, and is director of market development for the Iowa Soybean Association, was even more emphatic: “We want to sell to China, Mexico, whoever. We should be part of the solution, which is bringing down the trade imbalance.”
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