Clinton County farmer warns about the trouble with tariffs

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FULTON, Illinois -

As Clinton County, Iowa, farmer Dustin Johnson picks up his tractor in nearby Fulton, Illinois, he knows that exports are crucial to the ag economy.

"About one in three bushels of soybeans produced in Iowa goes to the export market," said Johnson, who also serves as president of the Clinton County Farm Bureau.

While there's a lot of talk about tariffs these days, they aren't new.  For example, farmers already contend with a 13% tariff on soybeans.

Plans to boost those tariffs to 25% is already driving down prices and harming a virtually-depressed farm economy.

"China is the biggest consumer of U.S. soybeans, so we want to make sure they continue to get our high quality product," he continued.

On a snowy April day, Johnson is getting his tractor ready.

"It's tough to buy new equipment right now,"  he said.

And with a possible trade war on the way, tough to think about the growing season.  That uncertainty makes farming even more volatile.

"It's really challenging to get a plan in place to try and be profitable while not necessarily having the rules stay the same the whole year," he said.

Johnson explained that tariffs reduce the money that farmers get per bushel.  That hurts the bottom line.

By the time Johnson uses this tractor in coming weeks, he hopes for more clarity in the global economy.

"I'm hopeful that we can come to some form of resolution before tariffs go into place," he concluded.  "I don't think they're good for the economy or for the world's economy."

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