By admin       2018-09-10

Farmer Danny May will lose between $35 and $70 per acre of cotton he harvested this year because the value of the crop has dropped. The price of cotton per pound has gone down about 10 cents, which was caused by the Trump administration rolling out tariffs on steel and aluminum imported into the U.S. from other countries. “That’s about 15 percent of your paycheck,” said May, 71, of Port Lavaca. “It does affect me. Corn, grain sorghum, soybeans – something that we plan for a year, and the stroke of a pen changes our lives. Do they think about that or do they just stroke the pen?” The U.S. Department of Agriculture is paying out about $4.7 billion to farmers hit in the trade war. Even with the extra help, which comes out to 3 cents per pound of cotton, May still is losing $35 to $70 an acre. The $4.7 billion doesn’t compensate farmers enough for their losses because producers got hit the hardest by the trade war, said Luis Ribera, director of the Center for North American Studies at Texas A&M University. The U.S. is still in a trade war with China, and $50 billion worth of products exported to the Asian country are being targeted with 10 to 25 percent tariffs. “The main products targeted were agricultural products,” Ribera said. “Nobody wins in a trade war ... The best way to fix things is to sit down and try to negotiate and reach an agreement. Of course, that’s easier said than done.” The amount of agricultural products exported to China has decreased by 18 percent compared to this time last year, Ribera said. Crop values have decreased 12 percent. “When you have a reduction in both quality and value, there is something going on,” he said. “China is buying less agricultural products from the U.S.” About 87 percent of cotton grown in the U.S. is exported, Ribera said. Texas produces about half the cotton grown in the U.S., and China is a big market for the state’s cotton. “Once you lose a market share, it’s hard to get it back. It’s so important for producers we don’t continue the trade war,” he said. “We don’t want to close markets; we want to open markets.” May, who has been farming since 1964, said it’s his way of life. He also has farmed with his wife, Eileen May, for the past 33 years. He farmed about 110 acres of cotton this year and harvested about 2,000 acres total for other Crossroads farmers. He began harvesting mid-August and finished by the end of the month. May said he didn’t plant or harvest differently as a result of how Hurricane Harvey impacted him the year before. He plants based on the weather and harvests when the cotton is ready. Last year, he finished harvesting all the cotton a day before Harvey struck the Texas coast. He lost about half the bales he harvested to the storm and didn’t receive his insurance check for the loss until this June. His average harvesting yield this year is about 1¾ of a bale per acre, which in some areas is a bale lower than last year. The drought this summer hurt the cotton, he said. “It was really dry. That’s why the cotton is not as good this year,” he said. “See those cracks in the ground – you could break your ankle in them. That’s how dry it is.” May said the Trump administration is trying to bring other countries into line when it comes to trading. “I don’t mind gambling a little bit if it’s going to help in the long run,” he said.

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