One Farmer Weighs In On The Impact Of Tariffs
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
President Trump is scheduled to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping while in Argentina this weekend for the G 20 summit. Heading into that meeting, Trump spoke about a possible deal in the trade fight with China.
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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I think we're very close to doing something with China, but I don't know that I want to do it because what we have right now is billions and billions of dollars coming into the United States in the form of tariffs or taxes.
MARTIN: The dispute has all but closed off the Chinese market to American soybean farmers as they bring in a record harvest this year. To soften the blow, they've been given a $12 billion federal bailout. Our co-host David Greene spoke to Austin Rincker. He's a fourth-generation farmer who grows soybeans and corn on his farm in central Illinois.
DAVID GREENE, BYLINE: We've been reporting a lot on this $12 billion bailout from the Trump administration to help farmers who were hit by a lot of these tariffs. Is this something you were supposed be a part of?
AUSTIN RINCKER: Yeah, we were. I did participate in that program and went in and filled out our paperwork here this fall. You know, I was very fortunate. We did forward sell a lot of beans here this year, a little more than usual. Profitability was just really good on soybeans early on to kind of lock in some really good contracts, and we kind of were fortunate enough to take advantage of that.
GREENE: Is it working? Have you been getting some money from it?
RINCKER: Yeah. The turnaround time has been very quick there. You file your production with the FSA office there. And you're paid on a per-bushel basis. In about four days, you'll receive your payment electronically if you're up that way with them. I think it would be just a little longer if they're mailing you a check. But no, the program seems to be successful here so far.
GREENE: How important has it been to help you, like, in terms of what you may be losing because of the Chinese market being closed off and, you know, how much of your losses are being offset by this program?
RINCKER: In all honesty, I mean, at this point in time, I think we'd rather just see trade than aid. I could say we had some really good opportunities, and we forward sold some beans, more beans than what we usually do. I took advantage of some really good pricing opportunities. But we did have a larger crop than what we anticipated, so we do have some extra bushels that weren't marketed. But no, as you get into 2019, I think that's where some concerns could be on kind of figuring out what the profitability on soybeans will be because, as far as I know, the program won't be available in 2019.
GREENE: So you're - it's helped you be a little more patient than you might have been to see how this plays out. But it sounds like you...
RINCKER: I think absolutely. Yeah, it's given farmers - taken the pressure off a little bit to kind of see how things play out here. It's just kind of been a waiting game here between the two countries. Just kind of seeing how talks continue to evolve and go back and forth.
GREENE: When President Trump talks about, you know, overall, he's got to do something tough to make sure there's a level playing field with China, does that argument resonate with you? I mean, are you going to be a little patient see how this plays out if you think he's doing something that's worthwhile?
RINCKER: Yeah. I'm willing to see how things evolve here going back and forth. You know, I think farmers want some certainty. I think they either want to see trade negotiations kind of get wrapped up here with China. Let's get a deal put in place. Or, you know, let's get a farm bill, and let's get that done because there's just so much risk with agriculture and everything we do. You know, between commodity prices, weather and input prices, you know, farmers just need some level of certainty to run their business and to kind of manage risk going forward.
GREENE: Austin Rincker is a fourth-generation farmer. He farms in central Illinois. Thanks so much for talking to us. Real pleasure.
RINCKER: Absolute pleasure chatting with you. Anytime. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.