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Soybeans sink as China hikes tariffs on American farm products

Bloomberg logoBloomberg 8/23/2019 Megan Durisin and Ashley Robinson

The news just turned gloomier for U.S. farmers.

China announced on Friday that it will impose additional tariffs on $75 billion of U.S. goods in retaliation for President Donald Trump’s latest planned levies on Chinese imports. The measures include an added 5% tariff on soybeans and an extra 10% on American pork as of Sept. 1. Corn and cotton products were also on the list.

November soybean futures in Chicago erased early gains and fell as much as 1.3%, extending losses after Trump said he’ll announce a response to the latest Chinese tariffs Friday afternoon. Cotton and hog futures both slumped, as did shares in crop holder Andersons Inc. and tractor maker Deere & Co.

Corn also declined, although with China no longer a big player in U.S. corn, traders are more focused on Midwest crop development than the trade war.

China, the world’s top soy importer, has already had a 25% tariff on the U.S. crop and has curbed purchases of American farm products for months as trade tensions simmer between the nations.

“As far as supply and demand, it means nothing because buyers weren’t buying anyways,” said Arlan Suderman, chief commodities economist at INTL FCStone. “It’s more about making headlines than it is actually changing the amount of soybeans that flow between the U.S. and China.”

Chinese purchases of U.S. soy slumps in trade war© Bloomberg Chinese purchases of U.S. soy slumps in trade war

Tensions have been increasing in the American farm community in recent weeks. Farmers leveled criticism at Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue at a fair in Minnesota earlier this month over Trump’s yearlong trade war with China, which has eroded demand for agricultural products and pressured already low prices. Top Trump administration officials also met this week to consider options for quelling a backlash in the Midwest over recent biofuel policy moves.

The spat between the U.S. and China has spurred added demand for South American soybeans. Export prices at Brazil’s Paranagua port are widening versus U.S. Gulf supply, Commodity3 data show.

U.S. farmers will begin harvesting this year’s soybean crops starting in September. Stockpiles were expected to balloon to an all-time high in the season that ends this month as American export demand dims.

a screenshot of a video game: The premium for Brazilian soybeans has widened over U.S. supply© Bloomberg The premium for Brazilian soybeans has widened over U.S. supply

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