An encouraging sign for farm states like Iowa emerged in recent days with news of a 90-day truce in the tariff battle between the United States and China.
President Trump announced the agreement, which began on Dec. 1, last weekend at the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires; for the first time, China's Commerce Ministry on Wednesday acknowledged the 90-day break.
In remarks to the Iowa Taxpayers Association's annual meeting in Altoona last week, two members of Gov. Kim Reynolds' administration - Debi Durham, Iowa Economic Development Authority director, and David Roederer, Department of Management director - underscored the negative impact on Iowa's economy of international trade uncertainties.
Durham said the clouds hanging over trade are preventing the state from reaching full potential for growth.
"We need to work through this trade thing because I think that's the only thing that is holding us back," Durham said. "This is the one that keeps me up at night."
A recent Iowa State University report said Iowa farmers could lose up to $2.2 billion from U.S. trade wars with China and other nations, producing a ripple effect on state tax receipts, jobs and other industries.
Consider the potential impact on soybean growers, who produced a record crop this year, alone. The U.S. sold some 33 million tons of soybeans to China in 2017, or nearly one-third of that country's soybean imports. China buys roughly half of U.S. soybean exports, or about $14 billion annually, and roughly one in three rows of soybeans grown on the nation's farms ends up in China, according to the American Soybean Association, but the Chinese all but stopped purchase of U.S. soybeans this year in response to Trump administration tariffs.
As we have said before, all farm state officeholders must use whatever clout and influence they possess in ratcheting up pressure on the Trump administration to end the trade war with China. They should be in the ear of President Trump and members of his administration every day. This isn't (or shouldn't be) about political considerations, it should be about what's good for the livelihoods of agriculture producers and the agriculture economy.
We join with all Iowans, as well as Nebraskans and South Dakotans, in hoping the three-month cease-fire is the beginning of the end to the U.S.-China trade war and the potential it holds for economic calamity in farm country.