Perdue talks about impact of Chinese trade war on farmers

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WASHINGTON (CBS19 NEWS) -- U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue talked about the impact of the ongoing trade war with China on Friday, specifically how it affects farmers.

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services says China is Virginia's number one agricultural export market for soybeans.

That particular crop was hard hit by the Chinese tariffs last year, with exports dropped by 83 percent since 2017. Prices are also falling.

However, Perdue says the soybean problems are not just because of the tariffs.

"And so the markets are pretty efficient about determining what prices ought to be irrespective of where they go. We may not be able to trade with China, but those soybeans have to go somewhere and they're replaced. That's a tough concept to talk about," he said. "So the fact is, there is legitimate anxiety and economic stress on the farm today, not unlike has been in the past. But with prices going down over the last six or seven years, at some point, there's going to be people that are hurt and people take out their emotions whether its opioid addiction or other types of things, they take this stress in different ways."

Earlier this week, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner condemned the escalating trade war that saw more increases in tariffs. Agriculture is Virginia's largest industry.

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