Interview: U.S. soybean association chair says farmers prefer trade to aid

Source: Xinhua| 2018-12-13 18:49:44|Editor: xuxin
Video PlayerClose

by Xinhua writers Xu Jing, Miao Zhuang

CHICAGO, Dec. 12 (Xinhua) -- "We would much rather have the trade and be able to grow a crop for a fair price," said Lynn Rohrscheib, chairwoman of the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA), in an interview with Xinhua.

Besides being ISA chairwoman, Rohrscheib herself farms near Fairmount, a village in Illinois. As a ninth generation farmer, she grows corn, soybeans and a little wheat.

After finishing the harvest, Rohrscheib's family has submitted an application for the agricultural aid as soybean farmers in Illinois are eligible for the 12-billion-dollar package rolled out by the U.S. government.

"Several farmers have applied, and then it's just kind of a wait-and-see as to when those funds will be available," Rohrscheib said.

Rohrscheib admitted that the government wants the aid to be helpful, but the farmers remained anxious. "We really don't want the aid. We would much rather have the trade and be able to grow a crop for a fair price and not to have a handout from our government."

Rohrscheib's farm has stored most of the soybeans harvested this year as it has an onsite storage which can store the gains as long as between 10 months and a year.

But for the farmers who don't have a whole lot of grain storage, they've been very dependent on the certain small hours or window of time that they can barn their commodities in other locations, the chairwoman said, adding that for U.S. farmers living in places with a lot of wet weather, their gains are not easy to preserve.

"We've received 20 percent less (in price) per bushel than what we had been before the tariffs were put in place," Rohrscheib stressed. "It's made things a lot more stressful on the farmer every day."

Rohrscheib's family farm is a fairly large one, employing about 16 full-time workers all year long. Treating the employees as part of the family, she said, "If these prices and tariffs keep continuing on the way that they are, we're going to have to make some really hard, hard cuts and some hard choices in the months ahead."

Since the U.S. government imposed punitive tariff on Chinese export products earlier this year, China has taken some retaliatory actions, including cutting down its soybean imports from the United States.

According to ISA statistics, Illinois is the largest soybean producing state in the United States, and roughly exports 60 percent of its soybean production. Since 2013 when China became the biggest export destination for Illinois, the state's agricultural exports to China averaged 1.85 billion dollars per year, or an annual market share average of 25 percent of all Illinois agricultural exports.

Besides, raising and crushing soybeans and closely related industries provide 28.3 billion dollars in sales and 114,500 jobs to the U.S. state.

Rohrscheib was excited over the meeting earlier this month between the heads of state of China and the United States in Argentina, saying she even hoped the upcoming negotiations "can start fueling more trade between our countries."

KEY WORDS: trade