Sen. Jones talks trade tariffs with Alabama farmers

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. - Most farmers in Alabama have finished their harvest for the year. And Congress is close to passing a new farm bill.
Before he heads back to Washington, D.C., Senator Doug Jones wanted to hear from soybean farmers about how the trade war with China is affecting their plans.

Friday afternoon offered a trip to the farm for Senator Jones. The harvest may be over, but he stopped to greet the Butler family in New Hope.

"I have such admiration for what they do," Sen. Jones said.

Jones is talking to farmers about the impact of tariffs. In June, China added a 25 percent tariff on American imports of soybeans in response to US tariffs.

"They're fortunate here that their soybeans go to a processing plant locally," Sen. Jones said. "But so many of the soybeans in this country go to China. And when there's a trade war with China, we may lose those markets, that's the big concern."

2018 will be a good year for the Butlers. They harvest 2,000 acres of soybeans, and they've been enjoying between $10 and $11 a bushel on soybeans for a handful of years, which is good. The not so good, the Butlers say, soybean prices have dropped below $9 once tariffs were put in place.

"Next year, we'll probably go heavier with cotton and heavier with corn, partially because of the rotation and because of the trade prices," Sam Butler said.

The Alabama Farmers Federation tells News 19 they expect close to 15 million bushels of soybeans will be produced by Alabama by the end of the year. Around 30 percent of that will end up in China.

"That's kind of what it is right now, who's going to blink first?" Butler said. "It's a market we don't want to lose."

The next chance at a handshake trade deal for the US and China happens in two weeks at the G-20 Summit in Argentina.

Right now, the new farm bill remains in conference committee.

Sen. Jones says Congress could pass the bill by Christmas.

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue says he doesn't plan to continue a $12 billion aid package for farmers affected by trade tariffs into 2019.

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