(WAFF) - Trade tensions between the U.S. and China increase as leaders of the Asian nation said they will follow through with plans to add tariffs on several goods, including soybeans, one of Alabama's largest exports.
"We exported 23 billion dollars of soybeans out of the United States the year before last," said Stan Usery Jr., president of the Alabama Soybean Association.
The grounds in Limestone, Madison and Lawrence counties are so ripe they produced nearly $50 million of that export. The money goes into the multimillion dollar operation it takes to pull it off, most of which goes back into our community. It's money that could go away with imposed tariffs.
"We can't do it for free and we can't do it for a loss. We have to make a profit to be sustainable," Usery explained.
Of the $23 billion made in 2016, $14 billion of that came from China. Usery said that for every three rows of soybeans, China gets one of them.
"Margins are very tight in the business that we do. There's very few dollars that separate profit and loss. Some growers it may be catastrophic and they may not be able to sustain their operations," Usery added.
With a huge hand in the game now charging more to play, the fear for some farmers is that their livelihoods may be at stake.
Usery calls it a scary reality. Just in the past few weeks since the talks of tariffs started, the price of soybeans has already fallen a dollar.
Regardless, he calls soybeans farmers, especially the ones here in Alabama, resilient. While there may be some uncertainty of what happens next, they are still hopeful that things will be all right.
"While this may inflict some short-term pain or it may inflict some long-term pain that some can't overcome, the farming community as a hole will figure out a way. It's hard to pin us down. We'll figure out a way to make it happen," Usery said.
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