Kansas farmers brace for more tariffs

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MOUNT HOPE, Kan-- -

China is promising to retaliate if the U.S. raises tariffs on another $267 billion of Chinese products, as President Donald Trump said he was planning to do last Friday.  And Kansans already caught in the middle of this trade war are bracing for the next round.

"China was one of our largest customers," said Kent Winter, a farmer in Mount Hope, Kansas.

Now, not only are farmers losing that part of their business, they may soon have to pay more for a lot of consumer products.  The threatened new tariffs would affect everything from peaches and mangoes to car parts and buttons, before any retaliation from China.

Meanwhile, farmers like Kent are getting ready for the fall harvest still unsure if they'll  earn enough to pay the bills.

"We've seen, especially, the price of soybeans go down," Kent said.  "The price of sorghum has gone down."

After the president raised tariffs on some Chinese goods last spring, China hit back, striking right into farmers pockets.  "Any new equipment that we might be looking to purchase has already gone up in price due to the steel price increase," he said.

So, they've held off on replacing equipment as much as possible and taken out crop insurance, tightening their belts against the unknown.

"I don't know how quickly this is going to be resolved," Kent said. "I don't know that anybody does."

Kansas Global Trade Services calls this trade war a bad deal for Kansas businesses.  But Kent Winter says he's willing to give the president a chance to make a better deal with China.  In the meantime, he's thankful for the promised $12 billion in federal aid to help cover the shortfall.

"That's going to help a little bit, but it's not going to make us whole."

As for this latest threatened round of tariff hikes and retaliations that could start as early as this week, Kent says he'll just wait and see how things work out for now.

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