John Phillips is among the U.S. farmers fearing the worst as China on Wednesday unveiled potential tariffs on a cavalcade of American agriculture exports – including corn, sorghum, tobacco, orange juice and soybeans – as trade tension between the world's two largest economies escalates.
Among the crops Phipps grows on the land that's now been in his family for six generations are soybeans, which for years have represented one of the most significant U.S. agricultural exports to Chinese buyers. Soybeans in 2016 accounted for $14.2 billion of the $21.4 billion of agricultural exports shipped from the U.S. to China.
But Phipps fears tariffs and trade tension could end up cutting American farmers off from a vital market, decimating domestic operations. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates roughly half of all soybeans produced domestically in recent years have been shipped abroad, and no country's appetite for soybeans has compared with China's.
the president acknowledged the worries of farmers, suggesting that he would do something to mitigate the effects of China's tariffs, though not specifying what.