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Local farmers expect Chinese sorghum tariffs to sting

Posted: 6:17 PM, Apr 20, 2018
Updated: 2018-04-20 19:17:50-04

Local farmer Bobby Nedbalek finds himself in the middle of a war, a trade war.  His battle is over the sorghum he grows.

“This is not an issue about grain sorghum, this is an issue about trade, US trade with China,” said Nedbalek.

China is the largest importer of U.S.-grown sorghum grain, but this week the Chinese imposed a 179% tariff on sorghum imports, a decision which is bound to hit Nedbalek in the wallet.

“We may not see a price good enough for us to receive to be willing to sell at until after the first of the year,said Nedbalek.  “The cash flow is going to be interrupted considerably.”

Nedbalek figures at least 70% percent of his sorghum ends up in China.

“We’ve got a good friendship developed with China,” said Nedbalek.  “They love our grain sorghum for poultry and pork production.”

When the tariff went into effect a fleet of cargo ships full of the grain had to turn around, three of them loaded at the Port of Corpus Christi.  Nearly 3,000,000 tonnes of sorghum move through the port every year, so a trade war on sorghum is bad for local business.

“Trade wars are certainly of concern for us,” said Port of Corpus Christi CEO Sean Strawbridge.  “This country is very dependent on trade, so we’re hopeful the administration will reach accord on these tariffs soon.”

Nedbalek believes it will be about a year before the issue is resolved.  In the meantime, he and his fellow farmers wait for a ‘cease-fire’ in the trade war, and tariffs to normalize.

“We can hardly do anything about what’s going on with trade,” said Nedbalek.  “Our government will have to do the best they can to get things back going again.”