US crop export prices fall at steepest rate since 2011

U.S. agricultural export prices fell by 5.3 percent in July as retaliatory tariffs on American crops kicked into effect, according to Labor Department data released Tuesday

Prices for U.S. crops sold abroad fell last month at the fastest rate since October 2011, led by a 14.1 percent decrease in soybean prices. Export prices for corn, nuts, wheat and fruits also fell in July, likely due to tariffs imposed by nations including China, Canada and Mexico, as well as the European Union.

Export prices for all U.S. goods minus agriculture stayed even in July as falling prices for non-farm industrial supplies, materials and autos were offset by rising costs for nonagricultural foods. Import prices also stayed even in July after falling 0.1 percent in June.

Major U.S. trading partners responded last month to President Trump's tariffs on imported steel, aluminum and Chinese goods with duties on major American food exports. Those tariffs have raised production costs for U.S. farmers already struggling to compensate for sinking export prices.

Agricultural export prices decreased 2 percent over the past year, while overall export prices rose 4.3 percent between July 2017 and July 2018.

Trump has tried to limit the damage with a $12 billion aid plan through the Agriculture Department and an agreement with the EU to export more soybeans across the Atlantic.

The president and his aides have asked farmers, many of whom supported Trump in 2016, for patience as they negotiate fairer trade terms.

"The farmers will be the biggest beneficiary. Watch. We're opening up markets. You watch what's going to happen. Just be a little patient," Trump said during a July speech in Missouri.

But lawmakers in both parties and advocates for farmers have called on Trump to resolve the disputes that spurred tariffs on U.S. exports to support "trade, not aid."