Tariffs deal devastating blow for local farmers, but some still remain hopeful

Donald Richard Snyder on his farm in Montoursville, Lycoming County

Over the last few years, the struggle has been real for Central Pennsylvania farmers like Donald Richard Snyder.

He's been farming in Montoursville, Lycoming County for most of his life, but recently things have gotten a much harder for soy growers throughout the country.

"Farmers are borderline of making any money at the prices we're at now," Snyder said.

Thanks to a trade war between the U.S. and China, prices of soy have dropped from $10 to nearly $8 a bushel. It is an uncharacteristic low. There's no telling when -- or if -- prices will go back to what farmers hope they will get back to.

"We're hoping it gets back to 10, 11 dollars."

In Juniata County, hog farmers like Chris Hoffman are also keeping a watchful eye on the global market.

"One out of four hogs gets exported across our borders here in the U.S. and right now that's a challenge because of the tariffs. You look at what it's cost to get our protein into other markets, it's not as economical anymore as what it was a year ago," Hoffman said.

According to the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, pork sales are down nearly $2 billion nationwide due to Chinese tariff retaliation.

In both Lycoming and Juniate Counties, many farmers who are impacted voted for President Trump in 2016.

Although many in both places are worried about the tariffs, Snyder says most of the farmers he knows still support Trump and believe the tariffs could help them out in the long run.

"It really took some gumption from the President to go after them for it," Snyder said, "the farmers I know are supportive of getting back to a fair trade agreement."

Pennsylvania Farm Bureau Spokesperson, Mark O'Neill says the tariffs may be doing more harm than good at the moment.

"Tariffs should be a last resort, not a negotiating tool. We feel that right now would be a good time for the President and the foreign countries to step forward, rescind these tariffs and retaliations immediately, get back to the negotiating table," O'Neill said.

The Trump Administration has announced it is working on a $12 billion relief package or farmers impacted by the tariffs. That would provide temporary aid, but most farmers say they prefer a more long-term solution.

"We don't really want aid packages and stuff as farmers. We want to be able to sell our products on a free marker, on an open market, with not tariffs and compete with the world," Hoffman said, "we're here to feed the world."

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