Illinois farm exports to China have suffered due to the coronavirus outbreak, but that isn’t the only factor.
China is the world’s largest importer for products such as soybeans, which Illinois farmers produce in abundance. The coronavirus outbreak has reduced demand, but economist Todd Hubbs at the University of Illinois said it’s been a recurring problem with the trade war.
“We’ve seen soybean prices running down significantly ever since the phase one trade deal was announced because there was uncertainty about the deal and whether China would meet the commitments. And then when you added this shock that happened with the coronavirus outbreak, it made that even more pessimistic."
The “phase one” trade deal includes commitments that China will purchase more U.S. agricultural products, including soybeans. But Hubbs says until demand rises, farmers will have difficulty selling their crops at profitable prices.