Why U.S. growers are betting the farm on soybeans amid China trade war

(AP Photo/Dan Gill, File)

CHICAGO, March 14 (Reuters) – U.S. farmers are gearing up to plant what could be their third-largest soybean crop ever despite failing to sell a mountain of beans from their last harvest due to a U.S.-China trade war that remains unresolved.

Soybeans were the single most valuable U.S. agricultural export crop and until the trade war, China bought $12 billion-worth a year from American farmers.

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But Chinese tariffs have almost halted the trade, taking the biggest buyer out of the market and leaving farmers with crops they cannot sell. The U.S. government estimates farmers will have 900 million bushels, or approximately $8 billion, of last year’s soybeans in storage silos around the country when they start harvesting the next crop.

The U.S. government rolled out a $12 billion farm aid package last year to soften the impact of falling revenue on farmers, an important source of votes for U.S. President Donald Trump.

As winter ends and farmers begin planting, they will continue to plant soy despite uncertainty over whether they will be able to sell beans to China later this year. There are simply no better options, farmers say.

It is tough to rotate out of soybeans because what else are you going to plant?

said Darin Anderson, a 41-year-old farmer from Valley City, North Dakota.

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