WASHINGTON – Representatives of the soybean industry assailed President Donald Trump today for launching a trade war with China that could cripple exports of soybeans by Ohio farmers.

Just hours after China announced it was poised to impose a 25 percent tariff on soybean imports, the American Soybean Association said in a tart statement “it should surprise no one that China immediately retaliated against our most important exports, including soybeans.”

“We have been warning the administration and members of Congress that this would happen since the prospect for tariffs was raised,” the statement said.

Ohio farmers last year exported nearly $700 million worth of soybeans to China last year, according to the state of Ohio. Ohio farmers export about 60 percent of the soybeans they grow, meaning a trade war with China will hit them particularly hard.

“It has a potential to have a very negative impact on the soybean industry,” said Jennifer Coleman, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Soybean Council.

The Chinese announcement took place just one day after the Trump administration vowed to increase tariffs on as many as 1,300 Chinese products. The actions by the United States and China raise fears that a trade war is looming which would damage the economies of both countries.

In its sharply worded statement, the American Soybean Association said “soybean futures are already down nearly 40 cents a bushel as of this morning. At a projected 2018 crop of 4.3 billion bushels, soybean farmers lost $1.72 billion in value for our crop this morning alone. That’s real money lost for farmers, and it is entirely preventable.”
“We regret that the administration has been unable to counter China’s policies on intellectual property and information technology in a way that does not require the use of tariffs,” the statement said.

jtorry@dispatch.com