Map shows how the U.S.-China trade dispute is hurting American farmers

American farmers are expected to traverse a rocky financial road in the coming months.

US-China trade war agricultural map
Image: U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service
  • American farmers are seeing economic losses as a result from the U.S.-China trade dispute.
  • Farmers of soybeans, which is the most imported U.S. crop in China, have been hit especially hard.
  • All agricultural commodities are at risk.

American farmers are suffering economic losses from a U.S.-China trade dispute that shows no signs of slowing down.

On Monday, the Trump administration announced plans for the U.S. to impose a 10-percent tariff starting Sept. 24 on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, increasing to 25 percent on Jan. 1. The Chinese government responded a day later by announcing new tariffs on U.S. goods worth $60 billion.

Losses across the country

A new map from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service, which shows year-over-year changes in net cash farm income, illustrates how farmers in all regions of the U.S. are, in part, already losing money from the tit-for-tat retaliatory measures.

Each region of the country specializes in certain crops, for example:

  • Basin and Range: beef and wheat
  • Heartland: soybeans and corn
  • Northern Crescent: dairy
  • Northern Great Plains: wheat, corn, soybeans
  • Prairie Gateway: wheat, corn, soybeans
  • Fruitful Rim: fruits, citrus fruits, vegetables
  • Mississippi Portal: cotton, soybeans, corn
  • Southern Seaboard: cotton, peanuts, rice

"All of these commodity prices are linked together," Gary Schnitkey, Professor in Farm Management at the University of Illinois, told Yahoo Finance. "If soybean prices fall, so do corn and wheat."

American growers of soybean, which is the most-imported U.S. commodity in China, are expected to be hit hardest by the trade dispute. In 2017, China imported from the U.S. about 33 million tons of soybeans, which are used to feed livestock and make cooking oil. If China can find another source for its soybeans, such as Brazil, the U.S. could see economic losses in the billions.

"On the U.S. side, farmers will suffer the most from the imposition of Chinese tariffs on U.S. soybeans," Loren Puette, director of Taiwan-based research firm ChinaAg, told DW. "To have the Chinese market shut down for these farmers would be a major financial blow," Puette says.

Still, China would likely suffer in the transition, too.

"The annual loss in U.S. economic well-being would range between $1.7 billion and $3.3 billion," said Wally Tyner, an agricultural economist at Purdue University. "Chinese economic well-being also falls if they impose a tariff, in some cases as much or more than for the U.S. The reason for that is that soybean imports are very important to their domestic economy."

Some have suggested an additional reason why China is targeting soybeans: to turn soybean farmers, many of whom are based in red states, against President Donald Trump ahead of the midterm elections.

"With the midterm elections only a few months away, we would expect China to keep the pressure turned up," John LaForge, head of real asset strategy at the Wells Fargo Investments Institute, wrote in a note to clients. "But soon thereafter… we would expect to see some relief for U.S. soy prices and U.S. soy exporters."

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China has reached a new record for nuclear fusion at 120 million degrees Celsius.

Credit: STR via Getty Images
Technology & Innovation

This article was originally published on our sister site, Freethink.

China wants to build a mini-star on Earth and house it in a reactor. Many teams across the globe have this same bold goal --- which would create unlimited clean energy via nuclear fusion.

But according to Chinese state media, New Atlas reports, the team at the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) has set a new world record: temperatures of 120 million degrees Celsius for 101 seconds.

Yeah, that's hot. So what? Nuclear fusion reactions require an insane amount of heat and pressure --- a temperature environment similar to the sun, which is approximately 150 million degrees C.

If scientists can essentially build a sun on Earth, they can create endless energy by mimicking how the sun does it.

If scientists can essentially build a sun on Earth, they can create endless energy by mimicking how the sun does it. In nuclear fusion, the extreme heat and pressure create a plasma. Then, within that plasma, two or more hydrogen nuclei crash together, merge into a heavier atom, and release a ton of energy in the process.

Nuclear fusion milestones: The team at EAST built a giant metal torus (similar in shape to a giant donut) with a series of magnetic coils. The coils hold hot plasma where the reactions occur. They've reached many milestones along the way.

According to New Atlas, in 2016, the scientists at EAST could heat hydrogen plasma to roughly 50 million degrees C for 102 seconds. Two years later, they reached 100 million degrees for 10 seconds.

The temperatures are impressive, but the short reaction times, and lack of pressure are another obstacle. Fusion is simple for the sun, because stars are massive and gravity provides even pressure all over the surface. The pressure squeezes hydrogen gas in the sun's core so immensely that several nuclei combine to form one atom, releasing energy.

But on Earth, we have to supply all of the pressure to keep the reaction going, and it has to be perfectly even. It's hard to do this for any length of time, and it uses a ton of energy. So the reactions usually fizzle out in minutes or seconds.

Still, the latest record of 120 million degrees and 101 seconds is one more step toward sustaining longer and hotter reactions.

Why does this matter? No one denies that humankind needs a clean, unlimited source of energy.

We all recognize that oil and gas are limited resources. But even wind and solar power --- renewable energies --- are fundamentally limited. They are dependent upon a breezy day or a cloudless sky, which we can't always count on.

Nuclear fusion is clean, safe, and environmentally sustainable --- its fuel is a nearly limitless resource since it is simply hydrogen (which can be easily made from water).

With each new milestone, we are creeping closer and closer to a breakthrough for unlimited, clean energy.

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