U.S. farmers scramble to contain trade-war damage, find new markets

ADDIEVILLE, Ill.(Reuters) by P.J. Huffstutter & Karl Plume – Clouds crowded the Illinois sky as Nick Harre walked away from his combine at the peak of harvest to join four fellow farmers in greeting some unlikely visitors. Inside a nearby seed barn, they made their pitch to eight Sri Lankan government officials: Please buy our soybeans. The wooing of such a tiny market underscores the depth of U.S. farmers’ problems after losing their biggest customer, China, to a global trade war. Sri Lanka bought about 3,000 metric tons of U.S. soybeans last year. China bought about 32 million tons – but now buys almost none after Beijing slapped a 25 percent tariff on U.S. imports in July. The move came in retaliation for U.S. duties on Chinese goods imposed by U.S. President Donald Trump. U.S. farmers would need about 11,000 markets the size of Sri Lanka to replace Chinese soybean purchases, but these days many growers will take any shred of new business they can get. A small but growing number of farmers have all but given up waiting for diplomatic solutions and started scrambling themselves to help open new markets and salvage existing ones disrupted by tariffs, according to… continue reading

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