South Dakota Senators urge President to reopen soybean exports to China

(KSFY) - Both of South Dakota's Senators have penned a joint letter urging President Donald Trump to reopen the soybean export market to China.

Sen. John Thune (R) and Sen. Mike Rounds (R) sent the letter Thursday, ahead of the President's visit to the G20 Summit in Argentina.

In January, Trump announced a round of tariffs on certain Chinese goods in response to what he said were unfair trade practices. Since then, the two nations have exchanged round after round of tariffs in an escalating trade war.

American soybeans - which China is one of the biggest importers - have been particularly hard-hit.

“We appreciate your efforts to address China’s unfair trade practices, but our soybean producers cannot continue to bear the brunt of China’s retaliatory tariffs, especially considering the current weak agricultural economy,” the senators wrote.

According to a release from the Senators, South Dakota is expected to produce 275 million bushels of soybeans this year, and two-thirds of that production is typically exported to China.

The full text of the Senators' letter is below:

Dear President Trump:

As senators representing a state with significant soybean production, we write to request that you actively pursue reopening U.S. soybean exports to China during your upcoming meeting with President Xi Jinping.

U.S. soybean producers have spent decades establishing and expanding market access in China. In 2017, China was the top market for U.S. soybean exports, with approximately 30 percent of the soybeans harvested in the United States exported to China.

As you know, U.S. soybean exports to China nearly ceased after China imposed retaliatory tariffs on our soybeans in July. China then began utilizing U.S. global competitors to supply its protein needs. If the United States continues to lose this critical market, there is a diminishing chance it will be fully regained, which will result in long-term reduced soybean prices for U.S. producers.

We appreciate your efforts to address China’s unfair trade practices, but our soybean producers cannot continue to bear the brunt of China’s retaliatory tariffs, especially considering the current weak agricultural economy. As you continue working to reach a trade agreement with China, we respectfully request that you make restoring U.S. soybean market access in China a top priority.

Thank you for your consideration of this request. We look forward to continuing to work with you to expand market access for U.S. agricultural exports.