New tariffs from China could impact soybean industry in Acadiana

Posted at 6:51 PM, Apr 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-05 19:51:48-04

On Wednesday, the Trump Administration unveiled a plan to place tariffs on $50 billion worth of China’s exports into the U.S.

China returned fire by matching tariffs on $50 billion worth of U.S. goods. One of the main targets was a 25 percent tariff on soybeans.

According to the USDA, soybean sales in Louisiana accounted for nearly 655 million dollars last year. There are 1.2 million acres devoted to growing soybeans and it’s the top crop in St. Landry Parish.

The President’s trade disputes are causing problems for some of his supporters.

St. Landry Parish farmer Stephen Quebedeaux’s sole crop is soybeans. Quebedeaux grows 3,200 acres of soybeans and it costs $200 dollars per acre for the seeds and fertilizer alone.

He’s invested everything into his soybean operation.

"If you can see him out there in the field,” said Quebedeaux as he gestured to one of his tractors. “That’s about $200,000 dollars you got rolling across the field. Plus you got labor and you got fuel. It’s not just something that just anybody can jump into."

With so much invested, Quebedeaux’s livelihood has already been affected by the trade disputes between the world’s two largest economies.  

"It was a forty-cent drop overnight trading. And, you know, us farmers need every penny we can get. A penny doesn’t sound like a lot to most people, but when you’re selling a hundred thousand bushels a year, every penny makes a difference,” explained Quebedeaux.

The trade skirmishes reflect President Trump’s promises on the campaign trail in 2016 to get tough on China. China uses access to its vast markets as leverage to push U.S. corporations to share their technology and trade secrets, known as intellectual property.

However, now some of the President’s supporters, like Quebedeaux, worry he’s putting policy over people.

"We all voted for him because we’re thinking he’s gonna do a good job. And, I know he’s playing hardball, but in the time of playing hardball he’s dealing with a lot of farmers’ lives,” said Quebedeaux.