U.S. farm exports expected to drop nearly $2 billion amid US-China trade dispute

A top official at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said the value of U.S. farm exports is expected to drop by $1.9 billion in fiscal 2019 amid the trade war with China, Reuters reported.

Much of the drop is a result of a loss of soybean sales to China, according to Robert Johansson, the chief economist at the USDA.

Johansson told the USDA’s annual forum on Thursday that the U.S. exported 24 million metric tons of soybeans in the 2019 crop year — down 13.5 million metric tons from this time last year.

“Under the trade dispute, exports to China alone have plummeted by 22 million tons, or over 90 percent,” he said.

China, the world’s largest soybean buyer, restricted U.S. soybeans in retaliation for tariffs on Chinese imports imposed by President TrumpDonald John TrumpSarah Huckabee Sanders becomes Fox News contributor The US-Iranian scuffle over a ship is a sideshow to events in the Gulf South Korea: US, North Korea to resume nuclear talks 'soon' MORE.

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The tariffs have led to great anxiety in the farm community, and criticism from Midwest senators from both parties.

Sales of U.S. soybeans in other markets, such as the European Union, Egypt and Argentina, have risen, Johansson said. But those sales have “not been enough to make up for the lost exports to China.”

China placed a 25 percent tariff on U.S. imports in July in response to tariffs imposed by Trump. Soybean shipments to the country abruptly halted, leaving crops to rot in American fields, Reuters noted. 

“The share of total U.S. agricultural exports to China in value terms is projected to be 6 percent, down sharply, with China falling from the top market in 2017 to fifth place,” Johansson said.

He said that U.S. farm exports are expected to bring in $141.5 billion this fiscal year. 

Trump agreed to halt any new tariffs by making a 90-day truce with China while at the Group of 20 summit in Argentina in December. 

China’s economy czar, Vice Premier Liu He, is in Washington this week to meet with Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinTrump says he'll decide on foreign aid cuts within a week Democrats push judge for quick action on Trump tax returns lawsuit Five key players in Trump's trade battles MORE and U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerOn The Money: Economy adds 164K jobs in July | Trump signs two-year budget deal, but border showdown looms | US, EU strike deal on beef exports Chinese, US negotiators fine-tuning details of trade agreement: report The Trump economy keeps roaring ahead MORE to try to resolve the ongoing disputes.

The two countries are working toward a March 1 deadline to reach a deal, otherwise the U.S. has said it will increase existing 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports to 25 percent.