There is so little good information about what is going on with farmers, especially in KY, if you are not plugged into a rural community that is (I’m a city boy in Louisville). But I came upon this report that came out before the Chinese trade talks tanked. Why this report by WKU and NPR is so different is that it highlights a problem that is exacerbated by Trump’s tariffs: overproduction and excess supply of agricultural products.
First up, we have the obligatory Trump supporting farmer being quoted. This is standard for any media report on farmers.
Western Kentucky Farmer Barry Alexander doesn’t have an answer on when the Trump administration will reach a trade deal with China, now a year into tariffs that have hamstrungsome Ohio Valley industries.
Alexander is optimistic these continued negotiations will be worth it, but his plan in the meantime lies in massive, silver storage bins on Cundiff Farms, the 13,000-acre operation he manages.
The emboldenend “optimistic” is my doing. From what I can tell from any farm reporting, Trump supporting farmers are always willing to take economic hits because Trump will make it work out great in the end. It’s rare to find a Trump voting farmer to say, “To hell with Trump!”
Anyway, Mr. Alexander in this report can weather this storm because he is storing up all those soybeans. Unfortunately for Mr. Alexander, it appears he is saving up for the seven years of famine from Joseph’s story in the Bible. He demonstrates this by showing how many soybeans he has in storage:
“These beans have been in here since Halloween day,” Alexander said. “The large bin on the right, that’s 350,000 bushels. The next-size bins down, that’s 180,000 bushels. To give reference, a thousand bushels is one semi-truck load.”
Those in farming communities will nod their heads and say, “Yeah. Seen that before.” But us city slickers haven’t. Folks like me hear about overproduction on farms, but numbers tend to bring the meaning of farming overproduction home:
Both Ohio and Kentucky set records for soybean harvests in 2018: 289 million bushels and 103 million bushels, respectively. This is up significantly compared to two decades ago, when Ohio harvested 162 million bushels and Kentucky harvested a little over 24 million bushels in 1999.
Kentucky farmers are producing more than quadruple the amount of soybeans than what they did 20 years ago. Trump tariffs have made the Chinese turn to other soybean producers. This means that American soybean farmers have a larger supply and fewer markets to sell those soybeans in. Prices of American soybeans go down. Law of Supply and Demand, which Trump never learned.
But don’t worry farmers. Trump is going to throw some more change your way to try and compensate you for your losses. MAGA.