Missouri farmers feel trade pinch, but tariff views vary

With Election Day less than a week away, President Donald Trump’s tariffs are proving to be something of a wild card in Missouri farm country.

The agriculture sector is bearing a disproportionate burden from the Trump administration’s trade war, with Chinese counter-tariffs in particular targeting American agriculture and the rural Trump voters reliant on the industry.

But when it comes to those tariffs, opinions in rural Missouri vary.

In the state as a whole, 28 percent of registered voters think the trade barriers will protect U.S. jobs and help the economy, according to a recent NBC News/Marist poll. By contrast, 44 percent believe the tariffs will hurt the American economy and raise the price of consumer goods.

The tariffs have driven down the price of soybeans, a top agricultural export from Missouri. Prices fell by about 20 percent after Chinese tariffs on U.S. soybeans took effect. They’re down from a high of $10 per bushel to about $8.50 today.

In Missouri, farm income hurt by lower soybean prices is being exacerbated by localized drought.

That leaves Missouri’s growers in a tight financial spot — but still split on the tariffs — heading into Election Day.

“(F)armers are getting squeezed on both sides,” said Brian Kuehl, executive director of Farmers for Free Trade.

Read more: Kansas City Star


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