Local farmers react to China’s refusal to buy U.S. crops

Updated: Aug. 6, 2019 at 8:17 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - China is officially refusing to buy U.S. Agricultural products, costing American farmers one of their biggest customers. 7News spoke with local farmers about the impact.

The continuing trade war has left rice farmer Paul Johnson and former soybean farmer Kevin Berken worried.

“In the U.S. rice industry we’re heavily dependent on exports we export about 50% of our crop," Johnson said.

Former soybean farmer Kevin Berken agrees.

“Our prices will more than likely go down lower than they probably are now if not drastically lower if something is not done," Berken said.

For Johnson, his fear lies with what could be a surplus of rice crops due to soy bean farmers switching to something more profitable.

“They historically have bought a lot of soy beans out of the United States," Johnson said. "When that market is taken away from the soybean growers, then they have to look to alternative crops.”

An alternative crop available in our area is rice. Johnson says the more farmers produce rice the more prices are driven down.

“Right now rice is selling for about $18 a barrel, which is about $5 a barrel below the cost of production," Johnson said.

The USDA announced the details of a $16 billion support package that will help aid farmers effected by China’s trade retaliation.

“USDA had already came out with those numbers here in the last couple of weeks on a per parish per county basis," Berken said.

In the meantime, Johnson holds out hope.

“Most in the rice industry would see it as a short term deal," Johnson said. " I think the long term goal of the current administration will be good for the rice industry and agriculture in general.”

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