Too Soon to Tell for Nebraska Farmers on Trade Deals

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January 17, 2020 - 12:04pm

With the signing of the phase one trade deal with China and the expected signing of the USMCA next week, some Nebraska farmers are still unsure whether President Trump’s trade deals are worth it.


Dave Nielsen farms in northern Lancaster County near Lincoln. For him, trade with China is all about relationships between suppliers and buyers.

“A lot of those relationships, we’ve burned the bridge," Nielsen said. "And it might take a long time to reestablish them. It’s not just the U.S. calls up China and says, ‘hey, you want some beans to buy?’” 

Nielsen acknowledges China has purchased less soybeans, but he doesn’t know if the tariffs imposed by the Trump administration are at fault. Reuters reports China’s pork output dropped to a 16-year low in 2019 because of a swine disease, which Nielsen said may have contributed to the decreased soybean sales.

For Scott Olson, a farmer near Tekamah in northeast Nebraska, the trade deals are good news because the last few years have been tough, as a portion of his land was wiped out last year because of flooding along the Missouri River. 

“It will absolutely be worth it. If we get more fair trade agreements with other countries, especially with China, I think it will be a good deal,” Olson said.

It might take a while to know if the new trade deals will pay off, Nielsen and Olson said; however, they agree the deals are better than no deals at all.

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