Shane Whitmer farms more than 1,200 acres of corn and soybean with other members of his family in North Liberty.
This time of year, he’s busy getting ready for planting, helping tend to about 200 head of cattle and wrapping up other chores around the family-run spread at Primrose and Madison roads, not too far from Potato Creek State Park in southwestern St. Joseph County.
Despite his chore list, Whitmer, who has been farming full time for about 20 years, is also aware of the things going on in the world around him. He knows about China’s unfair trade practices, he knows that President Donald Trump fired the first volley in an attempt to stop those practices and he knows that he and other farmers could be caught in a possible trade battle.
“A different president would have backed off and let China push us around again,” he said. “I think the president is determined to do something.”
But Whitmer also believes neither side really wants an all-out trade war.
Though the Chinese could potentially purchase much of its soybeans from South America, he knows the crop in Argentina has been affected by drought. He also know that the Chinese will still have to purchase a fair amount of its soybeans from the United States, even if it goes ahead with plans to implement a retaliatory 25-percent tariff that has been strategically aimed at soybeans, pork and other U.S. agricultural products.
“The weather scares me more than that tariff,” he said. “China gobbles up protein like nobody’s business.”
Still, he and other Indiana farmers, aren’t discounting the possibility, or the damage, of tariffs aimed at agriculture.
That’s because many farmers are struggling to find a profit and some are getting out of business.