Illinois farmers react to tariffs: 'We're taking one of the largest hits'

Soybean prices hit year-lows Friday but were rebounding by the close of business. (Rachel Droze)

Retaliatory tariffs from China is having a big impact on central Illinois farmers.

“We're taking one of the largest hits,” TriPork Farms Manager Thomas Titus said.

Pig farmer Thomas Titus lives in Elkhart.

"Having those good relationships and continuing to build those relationships is very important for our livelihood," Titus said.

Titus said China’s retaliatory tariffs are a blow to pig farmers in America since one in every four pigs are sold outside of the U.S.

China is one of the major buyers.

"We're going to potentially be looking at an increase of 80 percent on the tariffs of the pork that we export there,” Titus said. “I would expect the amount of product that we begin to export to slowly begin to decrease to almost zero."

It's not just pork farmers affected; soybeans are also getting hit with duties.

Garry Niemeyer is a soybean and corn farmer in Auburn.

"This is not going to be a profitable year where we are right now,” Niemeyer said.

Niemeyer said he understands why President Donald Trump imposed tariffs on China.

"At some point, you have to say enough is enough, and I think that's what President Trump is saying,” Niemeyer said. “Enough is enough and we have to be fair and free traders."

But Niemeyer said the retaliatory tariffs are tough to deal with.

"Unfortunately, because of autos, agriculture is the one that's picked on first,” Niemeyer said.

If Niemeyer were to sell today, he estimated that he'd come in about $30 below the cost of production per acre.

But he said those prices change daily.

"I hate to see these roller coasters because it makes it so difficult to price your grain and anticipate what's going to happen in some negotiation you have no input into whatsoever," Niemeyer said.

Soybean prices hit year-lows Friday but were rebounding by the close of business.

"I hope cooler heads prevail and they negotiate some of these differences out,” Niemeyer said. “The price, if it just rebounds normally, price rebound usually have a 30-50 percent retracement on something such as a tariff. So if that happens, then we're back in the black."

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