04.04.18 Update. Today China proposed a 25% tariff on 106 products, including soybeans. The Chinese tariffs are not immediate but will be phased in as U.S. tariffs come on line. This suggests the possibility of continuing negotiations between China and the United States.
In several recent news releases (see here and here), the American Soybean Association (ASA) has noted great concern over proposed cuts to the federal crop insurance program in President Donald Trump’s FY2019 budget as well as the effect of proposed tariffs on the international market for U.S. soybeans. Let’s review each issue in turn.
How the Proposed Cuts Would Work
The FY2019 proposed budget would cap adjusted gross income (AGI), reduce the premium subsidy, and eliminate of the Foreign Market Development program and Market Access Program.
The ASA, which you are automatically a part of when you join the Wisconsin Soybean Association (WSA), strongly opposes these cuts. ASA President John Heisdorffer, a farmer from Keota, Iowa, put it this way:
” The proposed cuts in crop insurance and farm programs make this budget a non-starter. We’ve opposed cuts to crop insurance from Republican and Democratic administrations alike. This budget revisits those cuts to an even greater degree, cutting crop insurance by approximately 30 percent. It would also eliminate the MAP and FMD export promotion programs, which we rely on to expand our reach into new and existing export markets around the world.”
He notes while the budget is considered an ‘illustrative policy document’ that placing such cuts in the budget “only emboldens those in Congress that would see these programs significantly reduced or entirely eliminated. As Paul Mitchell, Director of the Renk Agribusiness Institute at UW – Madison says: “The Farm Bill is an easy target for many non-ag interests, both Republican and Democrat, to fund other priorities”.
Mitchell notes that in recent years as much as 80% of soybean acres (and 75% of corn acres) planted in Wisconsin participated in crop insurance. Clearly, this is a major financial concern for Wisconsin farmers.
The ASA is firmly committed to opposing these cuts and avoiding the effect they could have as the farm economy struggles to recover.
The Concern About Tariffs
As if the gravity of proposed cuts to crop insurance weren’t enough, Wisconsin farmers also face the possibility of retaliation against U.S. soybeans following the recent announcement of $60 billion in tariffs against Chinese Goods under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974.
Currently, China is the largest purchaser of U.S. soybeans and, according to the ASA, consumes nearly a third of U.S. soybean production.
Again, the ASA has voiced strong concerns about the tariffs. ASA President John Heisdorffer sums it up as follows; ” Trade is an existential issue for soybean farmers. We export over half of our crop. China is the largest driver of world demand for soybeans. The tough line the administration is taking on China will lead to retaliation that will cost many farmers their livelihoods”.
The ASA continues to seek to discuss the issue with the President and advocate for ag-friendly policies.
What You Can Do If You’re Concerned
American citizens always have the right to speak their minds and voice their concerns to their elected representatives.
To make your thoughts known to President Trump, you can email (the fastest method to reach the President), call and leave a comment at 202-456-1111, or write him at The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington DC 20500.
To reach your elected representatives, here’s who to call:
Sen. Ron Johnson – ask for Meris Petek’s voice mail – 202-224-5323Sen. Tammy Baldwin—ask for Colleene Thomas voice mail – 202-224-5653Rep. Ron Kind – ask for Aaron White’s voice mail – 202- 225-5506Rep. Sean Duffy – ask for Ryan Mc Cormack’s voice mail – 202-225-3365Rep. Mike Gallagher – ask for Matt Tucker’s voice mail – 202-225-5665Rep. Paul Ryan – ask for Laura Wiley’s voice mail – 202-225-3031Rep. Mark Pocan – ask for Syd Terry’s voice mail – 202-225-2906Rep. Glen Grothman – ask for Chris Grawein’s voice mail – 202-225-2476Rep. J. Sensenbrenner—ask for Jacob Perterson’s voice mail – 202-225-5101