South Dakota agriculture has been caught in the crosshairs of the international trade war, and this week, Washington announced some help for farmers. Soybean farmers are going to receive $3.6 billion in assistance beginning next week.
Jeff Thompson raises soybeans and corn in Minnehaha County. He says that $3.6 billion is good, but not a solution.
“It’ll be a help, it won’t make us whole, it’s an assistance to us, to help make up for lost markets, but we still want our markets back,” Thompson said.
Thompson is also the secretary of the South Dakota Soybean Association. The organization’s president, Jerry Schmitz, has a similar take on the $3.6 billion.
“It’ll be $1.65 for soybeans per bushel, and so that’s an assistance, but we’d really rather have some trade agreements, some long-term trade agreements, and get our money from the trade rather than from government assistance,” Schmitz said.
KELOLAND News asked Thompson if this whole process, the trade war and tariffs, is frustrating.
“It’s frustrating and unsettling,” Thompson said. “We’re used to dealing with Mother Nature, we do that every year, rain, floods, droughts, whatever, but something like this that kind of catches you off guard, it’s kind of hard to plan for, and we don’t, it’s hard to handle.”
Schmitz hopes better trade deals for South Dakota soybean farmers will eventually come.
“Certainly hope so,” Schmitz said. “That’s been the goal. It sounds as though the Mexico agreement is getting very close, and we’re pretty excited about that. China will be close behind. And so if we can just get some of the Asian markets in now, particularly China, and get some long-term agreements there, it’ll benefit our state, close to half a billion dollars just in the short term.”