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As Trade War Ratchets Up, Farmers Plead For Return to Normalcy

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
In this Monday, June 10, 2019 photo, Andrew Dunham harvests Hakurei turnips on his 80-acre organic farm, in Grinnell, Iowa.

China’s decision to cut off purchasing American agricultural products could make an already bad situation even worse.

“We’re going to have way less of a demand, way oversupplied. That’s going to drive these market prices potentially further down than they already are. That’s a potential more of a crisis for farmers," said Malena Wheeler, the manager of the Woodford County Farm Bureau.

Wheeler said Woodford County farmers are telling her they’re concerned and would much rather be able to sell their products on the market than continue to receive government aid.

“They would much rather have the markets back than have governmental help. I mean, that’s what we’ve been what we’ve been saying since the beginning of this started. The farm subsidy and all is great, but we’d much rather have the market," she said. 


The USDA doled out $16 billion in farm subsidies in June to farmers hurt by the ongoing trade war with China. The federal government distributed $12 billion in 2018. Illinois is the top recipient of that money in 2019.

In a tweet Tuesday, President Donald Trump hinted more aid could be on the way again next year. 

The American Farm Bureau reports the U.S exported $19 .5 billion in agricultural exports to China in 2017. That fell to just $9.1 billion in 2018 as the trade war heated up, a drop of more than 50 percent. Zeroing out that number is a "body blow" to farmers already struggling, the farm bureau warned. 

Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.