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Major Trade Agreements Have Ohio Farmers Expressing Optimism

Soy Bean Farm
Soy Bean Farm

The U.S. has reached two major trade agreements with international partners in the past month, with the Trump administration pitching these deals as a way to ease the burden farmers have shouldered during the trade war with China.

During the nearly two-year trade dispute, Ohio farmers have battled falling commodity prices and a struggling market. But now, following the phase 1 trade agreement, China is beginning to ease up its tariffs on U.S. imports, such as soy and pork.

The agreement has China buying $200 billion of U.S. goods, with nearly 25% coming from agriculture.

Luke Dull is a soy bean farmer in Montgomery County. He says, while they remain hopeful, China has yet to make big purchases.

"There's too many questions to say 'we're gonna go ahead and up our bean acres. We're gonna plant more soy beans because we think the market's going to go up because we just don't know enough at this point," says Dull, adding that the trade deals are extremely important and provide a "light at the end of the tunnel."

Ohio Farm Bureau President Frank Burkett III voiced his support for the deal when the agreement was reached in January, he said "Restoring our ability to be competitive in China is welcome news for U.S. agriculture, and we encourage the administration to continue building on its success in a Phase One deal and aggressively pursue a full trade agreement with China."

Others have criticized the trade agreements, saying that they heavily favor the interests of businesses.

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) says the deal lets farmers and workers down.

"This deal won’t stop the Chinese from cheating by using state-owned companies to put American companies and producers out of business. And getting the Chinese government to make one-time purchases of U.S. agriculture products may help Trump’s political objectives but is not a good deal for farmers," says Brown. "What’s good for Ohio farmers is long-term, reciprocal access to China’s market, which this deal does not provide."

Copyright 2020 The Statehouse News Bureau

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.