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Farmers discuss tariffs at annual Farmfest in Minnesota

August 8, 2018

REDWOOD FALLS, Minn. (AP) — Discussions about tariffs and the financial impact on farmers are a primary focus for many people attending the annual Farmfest trade show in southwest Minnesota.

The event attracts more than 30,000 visitors, and this year many are talking about the effects of import tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump’s administration, Minnesota Public Radio News reported.

Many farmers said they see the need for better trade deals but are concerned about the financial impact that many are already feeling.

The tariffs and counter tariffs worldwide have caused decreases in sales and the prices of some key U.S. farm exports. Mike Hewitt, who farms near Walnut Grove, said that since China placed a tariff on U.S. soybeans, he’s watched the price of the crop drop almost 20 percent.

“They’re below breakeven, so we’re not making any money on soybeans,” Hewitt said.

But he said he remains optimistic that the president’s trade actions in the long term will improve the profitability of foreign trade for all sectors of the U.S. economy, including farmers.

Fred Dauer, who farms about 10 miles (16 kilometers) south of the Farmfest site near Springfield, estimates that he’ll earn about $30,000 less on his crop this fall compared to last spring because of the drop in soybean prices.

“It’s beyond fixing already for this year,” Dauer said. “It just is. It’s not going to happen. The price reduction has come about, and we’re not going to gain it back.

A Minnesota analysis found that farm income fell in 2017 by about a fifth over the previous year.

The Trump administration has promised about $12 billion dollars in assistance to farmers hurt by the trade disputes. But it’s unclear how much assistance farmers will receive.

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Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org

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