June 17, 2019

Pain of Tariffs Tests Farmers’ Faith in Trump: ‘How Long Is Short-Term?’

Many farmers are. In North Carolina, Ms. Overman, 57, said she could not handle another bad year. Last season, she lost $450,000 when most of her wheat and soybeans were wiped out by a hurricane, the second in three years.

Her son and son-in-law have both come home to farm. “But neither of them wants to plant one grain because they see no future in it,” she said. “They would be seventh generation, but they’re tired of going to the bank and getting a loan and not being able to pay it back.”

Each bushel of soybeans costs her about $10.35 to grow, she said. The sale price last week, when her family finished planting 1,500 acres of early beans, was $8.03. This month, after exhausting their credit, Ms. Overman and her husband had to borrow on their life insurance to pay the bills.

“I’m feeling more like this short-term pain is already long-term pain,” she said.

Ms. Overman thinks the president will get a good deal with China, but she worries that it will not be in time for her farm. “The way to make it worth it,” she said, “is to sign a deal, and then backtrack to try to compensate for losses.”

Mr. Goplin, too, said he believed that Mr. Trump would do all he could to help. “It makes me feel really good to hear Trump say farmers are important to this country,” he said. “That’s what makes me want to stick with the president.”

For now, he is grateful that he has only to walk across the road to sell half of his corn crop to his neighbor, a dairy farmer who uses the chopped cobs to feed the cows. As for his soybeans, he will sell them to the local co-op and has no idea where they end up in the global supply chain.

“The happiest day of the year for me is when I get the crop loan paid off,” Mr. Goplin said. “That means I can live to farm another day. If I can farm another year, I won.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/24/business/economy/farmers-trump-trade.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

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