Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig’s declared that “the 2019 harvest is underway,” but many of the state’s farmers have little to be excited about when it comes the current growing season.
Uncertainty about the ongoing trade war and rising commodity prices, as well as unfavorable weather, has dampened many farmers' outlooks.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, corn and soybean production for September is projected to be lower than in previous years but will not cause a dent in average yield estimates. Some farmers reportedly are operating at or below the cost of production based on what grows out in their fields.
Iowa farmers are among the hardest hit by the current trade disputes with China. The Washington-based Environmental Working Group said in its analysis released over the summer that producers in the Hawkeye State received more than $300 million in subsidies during the first quarter of this year as part of the Trump administration’s $16 billion aid package.
Trade tensions between the U.S. and China have caused soybean shipments to China to fall to a 16-year low in 2018. The Chinese purchased about $3 billion worth of soybeans, a 74 percent drop from the previous year.
In an effort to bring some measure of relief, a group of Iowa business leaders has called on the state’s congressional delegation to pass the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
Amidst the pessimism experienced by Iowa farmers, a two-fold glimmer of hope came in the form of an American trade agreement with Japan that will benefit agriculture exports and the White House’s plan to increase the requirements for blending biofuels into gasoline and diesel.