CHICAGO – President Donald Trump said Thursday that American farmers are starting to prosper. But recent data tell a different story.
“They are, I hear, despite everything they’re starting to really do well,” Trump said in comments broadcast from a Cabinet meeting at the White House. “They’re selling the corn and they’re selling the soybean and they’re selling everything, at levels that are soon going to be pretty good levels.”
Benchmark soybean futures prices are down about 14 percent since China first proposed slapping tariffs on U.S. supplies in April. China followed through on the threat in July.
Agricultural prices in general remain weak. The Bloomberg Agriculture Subindex, which comprises soybeans and seven other major farm products, hasn’t really recovered since touching a record low last month. Producer sentiment declined last month, according to the Purdue University-CME Group Agricultural Economy Barometer. The U.S. Agriculture Department is projecting farm net income of $59.5 billion this year, the lowest since 2006.
China bought more than $12 billion worth of soybeans from the U.S. last year, according to USDA statistics. The administration said last month it plans to offer $12 billion in aid to farmers affected by the trade conflict.
China “attacked our farmers by trying not to buy from our farmers,” Trump said. “They know the farmers like Trump and I like them. I love them.”