Midwest Crop Farmers’ Perceptions of the U.S.-China Trade War

Shuyang Qu, Wendong Zhang, Minghao Li, Lulu Rodriguez, Guang Han, Erin Cork, James M. Gbeda
October 2019  [19-PB 26] (Revised)

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Suggested citation:

Qu, S., W. Zhang, M. Li, L. Rodriguez, G. Han, E. Cork, and J. Gbeda. 2019. "Midwest Crop Farmers’ Perceptions of the U.S.-China Trade War." Policy brief 19-PB 26. Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, Iowa State University.

Executive Summary

We provide the first micro-level analysis of farmers’ perceptions and views of the U.S.-China trade war. We asked farmers in Minnesota, Iowa, and Illinois with at least 250 operating acres of corn or soybeans from February to April 2019. Our results show that despite the immediate negative economic impacts they have experienced, over 56% were still somewhat (38%) or strongly supportive (22%) of President Trump’s tariffs on Chinese products. This relates, in part, to the 2018 Market Facilitation Program payments that a vast majority of farmers (86%) find at least somewhat useful. We find that in general, our farmer-respondents largely view the trade disruption as a short-term-pain/long-term-gain phenomenon. At the same time, a vast majority (76%) recognize that American farmers will bear the brunt of the tariffs imposed by China, and 62% agree that U.S. agriculture is likely to lose markets. In addition, a majority of our sample harbor five “pain points” related to China: poor intellectual property protection, the trade deficit, the U.S. Treasury debt it holds, cyber-economic espionage, and job losses to China. Finally, Fox News, farm bureaus, and Successful Farming magazine were the most frequently cited information sources by farmers.