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American farmers 'are in it for the long haul,' Iowa governor says about trade war

Adriana Belmonte
Associate Editor

Although President Trump has indicated that the U.S. may be close to a trade truce with China, there are still no definitive signs that tariffs will come to an end imminently.

And so American farmers are “in it for the long haul,” according to Iowa’s governor.

The escalating tariffs have hit farmers on various levels across the U.S., but particularly the Midwest where soybeans — the top American agricultural export to China — are grown.

“We need to keep moving on all fronts and then figure out a way to get back to the table, continue the talks, and see if we can’t move this forward,” Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds said on Yahoo Finance’s The Final Round, adding: “Agriculture is the backbone of our economy.”

Soybean farmer Dave Walton views a field in Wilton, Iowa, U.S. May 22, 2019. Picture taken May 22, 2019. REUTERS/Kia Johnson

Asked about the struggles that her constituents are facing, Reynolds said that they are looking for new markets and waiting for the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA) to be ratified.

“I spend a lot of time traveling the state and talking to farmers,” she said. “Their focus is on looking for new markets to solidify what we have, to get USMCA ratified. They are in for the long haul right now.”

Reynolds added: “Of course, we want trade with China — we want that to move forward. And we want the trade disruption ... over with.”

Farmers ‘are one of the casualties’

The Republican governor placed the responsibility on China, accusing them of intellectual property theft in her state.

China “recognize[s] the fact that they’ve been a bad actor,” Reynolds said. “And, in fact, they actually stole seeds right out of the ground in Iowa, reverse engineered it for technology. So we can’t continue to let them steal intellectual property, technology transfer, currency manipulation.”

U.S. President Donald Trump holds up a "Make Our Farmers Great Again" cap next to Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds in Peosta, Iowa, U.S., July 26, 2018. (Photo: REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

In an interview with CNN, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue recognized the damage that’s been done by the trade war, but essentially summed it up to the cost of business.

American farmers “are one of the casualties here with trade disruption,” he said. "We knew going in that when you flew the penalty flag on China, the retaliation, if it came, would be against the farmer.”

In 2018, China essentially stopped importing U.S. soybeans. Although they promised to resume their regular purchases in early 2019, that was put on hold after negotiations soured in May.

Iowa is a crucial state for soybeans. (Source: UDSA)

Many farmers weren’t pleased by the news, with one telling Yahoo Finance that “we’re pretty helpless out here … our patience is running thin.”

In Reynolds’ state of Iowa, exports to China were down 44% in 2018, the largest among any state in the U.S. The governor stressed, though, that the U.S. isn’t the only place in the world that have issues with China.

“The United States is not the only country that’s experiencing some of those bad actions,” she said. “So, collectively, I think we can focus on China and hopefully then get this resolved sooner rather than later.”

Adriana is an associate editor for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @adrianambells.

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