U.S. trade deal with China could give financial relief to farmers

SPOKANE, Wash. — The wait is over for farmers across the U.S. as the market for their crops is finally about to open back up.

President Trump’s recent trade agreements with China, Mexico and Canada opens the door for farmers to make some money.

“We’ve been kind of on hold for the last 18 months or two years waiting for that, and that’s pretty much held our local prices rather stagnant,” said Ted Lowe, manager of Columbia Grain International.

Those trade wars left soybeans and wheat with nowhere to go in the country.

“In Portland, Oregon, where we ship our grain, we’ve had it pretty much stockpiled. There were a lot of soybeans this past year that did not get moved, and soft white wheat was piled around the Pacific Northwest,” said Lowe.

This is only considered phase one of the trade agreement, so farmers are still evaluating what the market will actually look like. Regardless, it’s a step in the right direction.

“Any trade agreements that we can get that open up our markets and put us on level playing fields with our competitors from other countries, we look at as a good thing,” said Marci Green, a past president of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers.

It’s not all good news, though – the novel coronavirus is also impacting the agriculture industry. Until the virus gets contained, there could be issues with transporting some goods between the U.S. and China.

“They use commercial airliners and some of the commercial airlines have stopped flying into China, so they don’t have any way to get those products to the U.S.,” Green said.

The harvest season is expected to get going around the 4th of July, possibly close to August 1 for farmers in Eastern Washington.