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 TrumpTrump says his advice to impeachment defense team is 'just be honest' Trump expands tariffs on steel and aluminum imports CNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group 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 MnuchinCommerce Department withdraws Huawei rule after Pentagon pushback: reports  Hillicon Valley — Presented by Philip Morris International — Bezos phone breach raises fears over Saudi hacking | Amazon seeks to halt Microsoft's work on 'war cloud' | Lawmakers unveil surveillance reform bill On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Mnuchin says officials working on new tax cuts | Watchdog charges former execs over Wells Fargo accounts scandal | Study questions Biden, Sanders tax plan claims MORE and U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerGOP senator warns quick vote on new NAFTA would be 'huge mistake' Pelosi casts doubt on USMCA deal in 2019 Pelosi sounds hopeful on new NAFTA deal despite tensions with White House 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.