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Local farmers struggling with tariffs to get government help

Posted: 9:51 PM, Jul 24, 2018
Updated: 2018-07-24 23:20:55-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Lucas Heinen is a third-generation Kansas farmer and loves what he does. 

"Got stories of my grandpa, my dad, me and my son. We are all on the farm working together. It's a great family business," he said. 

But as he waits for the fall harvest, this year he is keeping a closer eye on commodity prices.

Most of his crops are soybeans and corn, both of which have been targeted by foreign tariffs. 

"Beans substantially. They are down about $1.50 a bushel from their high. Corn is down around 40 or 50 cents," he said. 

When the Trump administration slapped tariffs on Chinese goods, China retaliated with duties on soybeans, corn, pork, wheat and more. Therefore, driving the prices of these goods down. 

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Kansas exported $404 million worth of soybeans in 2017 — the fourth most valuable export of the state. 

"If your bins are full of grain, it's just worth that much less money," said Heinen. 

But now, there will be short-term relief. 

As President Trump visited Kansas City to speak at the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention, his administration announced an emergency relief deal for farmers. 

The relief will be delivered several ways, through direct assistance, a food purchase and distribution program and a trade promotion program. The direct assistance program will specifically help farmers who grow soybeans, corn, wheat, cotton and sorghum — crops that have been directly hit by the tariffs. 

"In the short term, I think it's very comforting," said Heinen, who hopes the government can find a long-term solution. "For me, it means put it in the bin and hope they get it worked out and the price goes up." 

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill wasn't satisfied with a short-term fix. She put out a statement condemning the plan Tuesday:

“This is a self-inflicted wound that borrowing $12 billion won’t solve. Picking winners and losers is not sound policy and this money won’t help many of the Missourians hurt by this trade war, including the laid off employees at Mid Continent Nail. We should get back to opening markets for our farmers and aggressively enforcing our trade laws.”