It’s an especially happy Thanksgiving if you are getting ready for hibernation. That’s because farmers across the country are getting stuck with piles of produce due to tariff wars. According to Mark Weinraub of Reuters, “In Louisiana, up to 15 per cent of the oilseed crop is being plowed under or is too damaged to market, according to data analyzed by Louisiana State University staff. Crops are going to waste in parts of Mississippi and Arkansas. Grain piles, dusted by snow, sit on the ground in North and South Dakota. And in Illinois and Indiana, some farmers are struggling to protect silo bags stuffed with crops from animals.”
China is the biggest consumer of American soybeans, snapping up 60% of the annual US harvest. When a new 25% tariff was recently imposed on Chinese imports, they responded with a 25% increase on US soybeans.
Farmers have been given a $12 billion bailout, but most of this money has been awarded to grain elevator companies who have raised storage rates by 40%, leaving many farmers with nowhere to store or sell their soy. Some of the soybean crop is ending up in Brazil and Argentina who are getting the beans at a very large discount. They are, in turn, exporting their own soybean crops to China and using the US beans for local consumption.
This not only increases the carbon footprint of soybean crops, but the new Brazilian government is actually opening rainforests and savannas to destruction in order to make room for more soybean crops.
The US exports a third of its cranberry crop to Europe, but now over 100 million pounds of cranberries are stuck in tariff limbo. These crops will be used as animal feed or compost as the EU imposed a 25% tariff on US cranberry juice concentrate in retaliation to US tariffs on the steel industry. China joined compounded the cranberry farmer’s woes by increasing its tariff on dried cranberries from 15% to 40%.
US cherry growers lost $86 million on this year’s harvest due to an increase in trade tariffs. In retaliation to a hike in aluminium tariffs, China increased cherry tariffs from 10% to 25%. When a 25% tariff was placed on Chinese imports, the cherry tariff was raised again, this time to 50%, proving too rich for even the most affluent Chinese consumer. With a limited shelf life, cherry farmers were forced to sell at cut-rate prices.
With nowhere to sell or store their crops, many US farmers are using their grans and fruit for animal feed or ploughing it back into the soil as compost.