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Local soybean farmers still hopeful after trying season

Posted at 10:48 PM, Feb 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-11 23:56:08-05

Soybean farmers are holding onto hope for a better season this year.

Farmers say tariffs imposed by China and a rainy harvest hurt their industry.

Those tariffs are on hold until the end of the month while the United States and China negotiate an agreement.

However, if those countries don’t reach an agreement, it could cause some farmers to stop growing soybeans.

Gonsoulin Farms has one less crop this year.

“The significant amount of rains we had during the 2018 spring planting and harvesting posed a challenge to us. We opted out because we couldn’t get our crop planted in a timely manner,” said Ricky Gonsoulin.

That’s just one problem soybean farmers, like Gonsulin, are facing.

“We weren’t able to plant soybeans,” he said.

China historically buys 60 percent of soybeans in Louisiana, but with a 25-percent tariff on the crop and also a rainy harvest, it’s hurting farmers here in Acadiana.

“With the tariffs in place, China stopped buying the soybeans and the market dried up. Just domestic market was left for the soybean growers,” said Gonsulin.

“You can see acres of acres of soybeans left in the field that typically would’ve been harvested and provide a lot of income to a lot of growers. A lot of my neighbors had that problem, and it will be an issue moving forward.”

Some farmers are hoping the U.S. and China reach an agreement before soybean planting time arrives in April.

“A lot of farmers are paying close attention to what they’re going to do this year and how many acres they’re going to plant soybeans. You may see the acres dwindle down with the uncertainty,” said Gonsulin.

“The majority of their livelihood have to make a decision relatively sooner than later. In our case, we can wait a little while longer.”

According to the USDA, soybean sales in Louisiana accounted for nearly $655 million last year.