Shutdown hits American farmers already hurt by China trade war

Just as American farmers thought Donald Trump had rescued them from the economic consequences of his trade war with China, along came the government shutdown.

The National Farmers Union said the closure of agriculture department offices could not have come at a worse time for members awaiting emergency federal aid principally to compensate for a sharp drop in soybean prices after sales to China plunged as a result of trade sanctions on Beijing.

The shutdown has also created a new wave of uncertainty in planning for the planting season because crucial end of year agricultural data will now not be released on schedule.

“This is a bigger than normal challenge because agriculture has been in a five year profit decline,” said Roger Johnson, the president of the National Farmers Union representing about 200,000 family farmers and ranchers.

“Net farm income is half of what it was five years ago. Financial conditions are very difficult for a lot of farmers. There’s a lot of stress out there. It’s been exacerbated by what’s gone on in the trade arena as market prices have gone down. And now we have the shutdown.”