LEMOYNE, Pa. — The Mid-Atlantic Soybean Association called upon federal policymakers not to lose sight of agricultural trade even as other issues like the government shutdown and the border wall appear to be dominating policy discussions now.
Representing soybean growers in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware, MASA said that agricultural trade should be at the center of trade negotiations and that Congress and the Trump administration must keep its focus on regaining the Chinese market for U.S. soybeans. The six months of the Chinese retaliation to U.S. tariff actions have halted sales, reduced crop prices and severely impacted U.S. soybean growers.
The value of U.S. soybean exports to China grew 26-fold in 10 years, from $414 million in 1996 to $14 billion in 2017. China imported 31 percent of U.S. production in 2017, equal to 60 percent of total U.S agricultural exports and nearly one in every three rows of harvested soybeans.
U.S. soybean growers realized a nearly 20 percent drop in soy prices since last summer, and the future of soy growers’ relationship with China continues to be in jeopardy. China has pursued new avenues from which to procure soybeans and other protein crops, including maximizing soybean imports from other exporting countries, particularly Brazil.
“Once, agricultural exports were the bright spot in America’s trade picture,” said MASA Executive Director Vince Phillips. “Soybean growers fear that China will conclude that America is no longer a desirable trading partner and will decide to keep their soybean business elsewhere. Resolving this lingering trade war with China will help restore certainty and stability to the soy industry.”
— Mid-Atlantic Soybean Association