News Local/State

Chinese Tariffs Trouble Illinois Farm Economy

A ship loaded with

Farmers in Illinois are worried about the impact of proposed tariffs from China on their agricultural products. Tom Driggers/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Illinois farmers are among the targets of new Chinese tariffs. Beijing this week said it will impose a tax on American soy and pork products, two of Illinois' chief exports. The move is a response to President Trump’s announced tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum.

Beijing is targeting American agriculture with the new taxes. Pork, for example, will be hit with a 25% tax when it enters Chinese ports from now on.

Illinois, meanwhile, ranks fourth in the nation for pork production and second in soybean exports, according to the state's Department of Agriculture. The USDA says China is one of the biggest markets for both products, and the second largest foreign agricultural market overall, next to Canada.

Larry O’Brien of the Illinois Pork Producers Association explained the new taxes have hog farmers wringing their hands.

“They spend an inordinate amount of their time worried about risk, and to have something of this magnitude dropped on them with no real notice whatsoever has left a lot of people scrambling,” he said.

Illinois shipped more than $3.5 billion worth of pork and soybeans to foreign markets last year. While pork tariffs went into effect Monday, Beijing hasn’t announced when it will do the same with soybeans. So far, it's announced tariffs on more than 200 products.

Here's the full list of all tariffs: