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Texas Farmers Caught In Crossfire of US-China Trade War

Chinese tariffs on U.S. agricultural exports are hurting sales of cotton, sorghum, and other commodities, while U.S. tariffs on Chinese steel are driving up the cost of agricultural machinery.

It's been a week since China and the U.S. each imposed tariffs on roughly $34 billion worth of the other's exports. The Trump administration is now threatening to impose tariffs on another $200 billion worth of goods, and China is expected to do likewise. The trade war is already taking a toll on Texas farmers.


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Run down the list of commodities China has already penalized, and you'll find it tallies closely with the goods for which Texas is a top exporter: cotton, sorghum, rice. "We've seen an effect on grain sorghum. We've seen an effect on cotton prices. And of course all to the negative," says Russell Boening, president of the Texas Farm Bureau.

The pain is likely to spread throughout rural communities, including large parts of Fort Bend and Brazoria Counties. "If the farmer has less money to spend, that means there's less money to spend at an equipment dealer, at a fertilizer dealership, car dealerships. It definitely has a domino effect," Boening says.

The Farm Bureau president says the U.S. tariffs on Chinese steel are hurting Texas farmers as well, by driving up the cost of agricultural machinery and parts.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew Schneider is the senior reporter for politics and government at Houston Public Media, NPR's affiliate station in Houston, Texas. In this capacity, he heads the station's coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments...

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