By Annette Bertelsen, from Spring 2019 C magazine
What happens when the world’s biggest buyer suddenly backs away from U.S. soybeans? That’s been a question on everyone’s mind since July 6, 2018, when the United States implemented China-specific tariffs. The move embroiled U.S. farmers and cooperatives in a trade war that hit the soybean world particularly hard. Spring USDA data shows 2018–2019 soybean export inspections down nearly 34 percent from the year before, with farms and cooperatives struggling to handle huge carryover and reduced cash flow.