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Indiana soybean farmers fearful of trade war

INDIANA — After President Donald Trump's decision to add more tariffs on Chinese imports Thursday, Indiana soybean farmers say the retaliation China could take out on the United States agriculture industry could be devastating.

"If the Chinese buy less soy beans from the U.S., that means less soybeans from Indiana. That means less income for me and my family," said Joe Steinkamp, a member of the National Soybean Alliance and a soybean farmer in Evansville, Ind. 

He says Thursday's new tariffs on Chinese goods make the fear of a looming trade war even more of a reality after the recent industry-sweeping tariffs on steel and aluminum. 

"I'm supportive of the other industries, but I don't just want to be the fall guy so that one loses and one wins," Steinkamp said.

According to the National Soybean Alliance, Indiana fluctuates between being the fourth and fifth-largest soybean producing state in the country.

If China does retaliate and begins to buy beans from other top-producing countries like Brazil and Argentina, Steinkamp said the ripple effects would be tremendous.

Steinkamp says that every third row of beans you see in an Indiana field is sold to China. And he says the fear of retaliation from that country is growing across the ag industry.

"My local grain elevator has been taking calls all afternoon from farmers that are wanting to sell grain today," he said.

For now, Steinkamp has no choice but to remain optimistic—just like he does every spring, every year.

"Our current president says he is a deal-broker. So we're going to have to go with that thought and be positive," he said. "And as we hit our knees this evening, we'll hope that he's the smartest cookie in the jar."

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