Warner, Kaine: Escalating Trump trade war would hurt Virginia soybean production, jobs

congressU.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) expressed increased concern over how President Trump’s trade war would hurt Virginia’s soybean production, which is the Commonwealth’s number one cash crop.

China’s Ministry of Commerce has recently announced they will begin proactively taxing Chinese companies that import some American agricultural products at 178.6% to discourage imports. The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) has confirmed that China is the Commonwealth’s biggest export market for agricultural goods and suggested President Trump’s tariffs could hurt Virginia businesses and employees. Soybean production in Virginia accounts for roughly $187 million in economic output, which helps supports thousands of jobs in the Commonwealth. Amid escalating rhetoric by the Trump Administration, China announced that it is considering raising tariffs on soybeans, beef, and other critical agriculture commodities produced in Virginia.

“Virginia’s soybean producers should not be held hostage to the uncertainty of President Trump’s trade games,” said Sen. Warner. “While China should be held accountable for its unfair trade practices, this should not be done at the expense of the hardworking soybean farmers in this country. President Trump needs to work with us to find the best way to resolve these disputes and avoid threatening an industry that creates thousands of new jobs and brings millions of dollars to rural communities in Virginia.”

“Clearly China is not taking President Trump’s threats lightly and we’re going to start feeling the pain of his rash actions. Our farmers deserve better than this,” said Sen. Kaine. “President Trump says he wants to create jobs and stimulate the economy yet his actions will have the opposite effect. His inflammatory, bullying tactics are going to hurt Virginians.”

“Exports are a vital source of income for Virginia’s farmers and here in the Commonwealth we have worked hard to open new markets around the world for our agriculture and forestry exporters. However, these efforts are jeopardized by threats of tariffs and trade wars at the national level,” said Bettina Ring, Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry. “I hope that our trade negotiators will keep our hardworking farmers and agribusinesses front of mind when working with their Chinese counterparts to solve this trade dispute.”

“The Virginia Soybean Association is concerned with the potential of trade wars within the global marketplace, including China. International trade is vital for the economic viability of the soybean industry,” said Nick Moody, President of the Virginia Soybean Association. “Uncertainty in trade agreements directly affect the stability of markets and price, which is a major concern for producers in a business that is already largely dependent on weather. Our hope is for the administration to work with leaders in international markets to create solid solutions to these trade disputes, which will not continue to disrupt soybean markets.”

According to VDACS, agriculture is Virginia’s largest private industry, with an economic impact of $70 billion annually that provides more than 334,000 jobs. The agriculture and forestry industries combined have a total economic impact of over $91 billion and provide more than 442,000 jobs in the Commonwealth. Every job in agriculture and forestry supports 1.7 jobs elsewhere in Virginia’s economy. Production agriculture alone employs 54,000 Virginians and accounts for more than $3.8 billion in economic output. Almost 10 percent of Virginia’s gross domestic product (GDP) is directly tied to agriculture and forestry.

Sens. Warner and Kaine previously raised concerns about how President Trump’s trade war with China could hurt Virginia businesses and employees, listing the set of products grown and made in Virginia that have been targeted by the Chinese for duties. They also wrote to the Administration last week warning that withdrawing from the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)—another significant source of agricultural exports for Virginia—would negatively impact Virginia’s agricultural industry.

Below is a detailed list of soybean producing areas in Virginia as of 2017. A comprehensive list can be found here.

COUNTY PRODUCTION (Bushels)
NORTHERN VA/VALLEY  
Culpeper 524,000
Fauquier 642,000
Frederick 68,500
Loudoun 301,000
Madison 384,000
Page 25,400
Rockingham 405,000
Shenandoah 259,000
Other NOVA counties 314,100
   
CENTRAL VIRGINIA  
Amelia 429,000
Bedford 20,300
Campbell 162,000
Caroline 1,056,000
Chesterfield 66,000
Cumberland 134,000
Goochland 183,000
Louisa 224,000
Orange 380,000
Prince Edward 48,400
Spotsylvania 180,000
Other Central Counties 1,413,300
   
EASTERN SHORE  
Accomack 1,577,000
Charles City 434,000
Essex 971,000
Gloucester 284,000
King and Queen 718,000
King George 222,000
King William 740,000
Northampton 937,000
Northumberland 767,000
Richmond 779,000
Westmoreland 895,000
Other Eastern Counties 1,041,000
   
SOUTHSIDE  
Charlotte 240,000
Halifax 299,000
Lunenburg 148,000
Nottoway 128,000
Pittsylvania 193,000
Other Southside Counties 253,000
   
HAMPTON ROADS  
Brunswick 364,000
Dinwiddie 553,000
Greensville 353,000
Isle of Wight 728,000
Prince George 437,000
Southampton 992,000
Surry 592,000
Chesapeake 887,000
Suffolk City 898,000
Virginia Beach 454,000
Other HRVA Counties 1,459,000
   
TOTAL 25,960,000

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