Iowa Farmers Fighting Poor Planting Conditions and Tariff Fallout

RADCLIFFE, Iowa -- Out on the farm it is planting season, or at least it should be.

“Well, we all try to get out whenever we can, whether it takes late hours — when it's set to go — we have to give the fields time to dry out. It's a challenge to get it done exactly when we want to and how we want to do it,” said Radcliffe farmer Dennis Friest.

A wet spring is an understatement for much of the state with flood waters hammering the eastern and western parts of Iowa. According to the USDA, only 48 percent of the corn crop has been planted. That's the smallest percentage since 2013. On top of that, only 13 percent of the soybean crop has been planted. Friest says he's one of the lucky ones, having almost all his corn in the ground. He says the state as a whole is suffering.

“Overall, probably lower yields. We need to get plants planted on an optimum time to take full advantage of the growing season. So, whenever we get past a certain date, whether that's the 15th of May or the 20th of May, we tend to lose a percentage of the yield each day after that,” he said.

With prices suffering from the trade war with China, Friest says they need all the bushels they can get.

“It’s affecting us each a little bit different, but we're all being effected. Everybody is really getting drained of on their financial resources. We don't have the money to spend on some of our family things, some of our machinery, maybe we're keeping machinery longer than we normally would. We don’t have the money to spend,” said Friest.

That war shows no signs of stopping. Last week, President Donald Trump increased tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. China retaliated by announcing tariffs on $60 billion of U.S. products, leaving farmers like Friest wondering when it will end.

“We're accustomed to a lot of this, but the trade issue has got a lot of farmers discouraged. We're in a global economy. We need to eliminate the tariffs to get equal access to the world markets,” he said.

In 2018 Trump issued a multi-billion-dollar bailout to farmers to help balance out their losses. On Twitter, he has floated the idea of a second bailout this year up to $15 billion.

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