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The fertile farmland in eastern Dakota is harvesting well. At this time of year, Kevin Carrer's first thing to do when he gets up in the morning is to turn on his laptop and see how many soybeans Chinese companies buy from him.


Over the past two decades, Cass County, Missouri, has grown the most soybeans in the country. Most of the soybeans are sold to China across the Pacific Ocean as feed for pigs and chickens.


China and other trading partners hit with the tariffs, including the European Union, have sought to maximize the political impact of their reprisals. The European Union imposed tariffs on bourbon, produced in Kentucky, the home state of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and on Harley-Davidson motorcycles, from Wisconsin, the home state of House Speaker Paul Ryan. China’s decision to impose tariffs on soybeans squeezes some of Trump’s staunchest supporters across the Midwestern farm belt.

被关税打击的中国和包括欧洲的其他贸易伙伴,都试图最大化其报复的政治影响。欧盟对产自肯塔基州的波本威士忌和产自威斯康星州的哈雷-戴维森摩托车(Harley-Davidson motorcycles)征收关税,肯塔基州是参议院多数党领袖米奇·麦康奈尔(Mitch McConnell)的家乡,而威斯康星州则是众议院议长保罗·瑞安(Paul Ryan)的家乡。中国对大豆征收关税的决定打击了特朗普在中西部农场地带一些最坚定的支持者。

Like most successful American exports, soybeans are produced at high efficiency by a small number of workers using cutting-edge technologies, like tractors connected to satellites so the optimal mix of fertilizers can be spread on each square foot of farmland. The United States exported $26 billion in soybeans last year and more than half went to China.


Some farmers in North Dakota say they trust Trump to negotiate in the nation’s interest. Karel said many of his customers wear red “Make American Great Again” caps and insist that the pain of lost business and lower profits is worthwhile. They say they will suffer now so their children benefit later — echoing the argument Trump has made.

北达科他州的一些农民说他们相信特朗普会为了国家的利益进行谈判。卡雷尔说,他的许多顾客戴着红色“让美国恢复伟大荣光”(Make America Great Again)帽子,并坚持认为失去生意和降低利润的痛苦是值得的。他们说他们现在将遭罪,所以他们的孩子以后会受益——这与特朗普提出的论点相呼应。

In the mid-1990s, there were 450,000 acres of soybeans in the state. Last year, there were 6.4 million. As the state’s production of soybeans increased, companies spent millions of dollars on larger grain elevators, on the 110-car trains that carry the soybeans west to the Pacific Coast, on bigger terminals at the ports. A few years ago, Gebeke traded his grain drill, used to plant wheat, for a second machine to plant soybeans.


The Arthur Companies in 2016 opened a shiny drying, storage and loading facility that can hold 2.7 million bushels of beans waiting for the next train.


Soybean farmers also spent millions of dollars cultivating the Chinese market. Farmers in North Dakota and other states contribute a fixed percentage of revenue to a federal fund called the “soybean checkoff” that pays for marketing programs like trade missions to China and research intended to convince Chinese farmers that pigs raised on American soybeans grow faster and fatter. In 2015, North Dakota soybean farmers footed the bill for an event in Shanghai honoring the 10 “most loyal” buyers of American soybeans.


The soybean industry’s sales pitch emphasized the reliability of American infrastructure and the political stability of the United States. The message was that the Chinese could be confident that American farmers would deliver high quality soybeans.


None of this is nearly enough. During the first six weeks of the current export year, which began in September, American soybean exports to China are down by about 6 million tons from last year, while soybean exports to the rest of the world are up by only 3 million tons.


Some analysts predict China will be forced to buy more American beans after it exhausts other sources. Others are hopeful that China and the United States will reach a deal to remove the tariffs.


But waiting carries risks. Soybeans can spoil and Brazil harvests its crop in the spring, creating fresh competition for American beans.


The Trump administration said in August that it would distribute $3.6 billion to soybean farmers to offset the decline in market prices. The subsidy rate of 82.5 cents per bushel, however, covers less than half of the losses facing North Dakota farmers at current market prices.