By Chris Pickup

A trade war between China and the United States is threatening blowback on Ontario soybean producers, including those here in Haldimand.

China is the world’s largest buyer of soybeans, and the US one of the world’s largest soybean exporters. It is feared China’s imposition of a 25-per-cent tariff on U.S. soybeans could also wipe millions off the value of the cash crop grown in Southwestern Ontario.

The price of the globally traded commodity on the Chicago Board of Trade dropped 20% in one day alone last week, although it rose a few cents Tuesday.

Everywhere you look in rural Haldimand county, there are fields of soybeans.

Asked what the impact is on Haldimand producers, farmer and county councillor Leroy Bartlett noted “So far the U.S. and China dispute has had little impact but everyone is waiting for the shoe to drop”

“Outcomes are tough to predict as there are positives and negatives.”

Soybeans run close to corn as the number one crop in Southwestern Ontario, worth about $1.5 billion at the farm gate. The tariff could wipe millions off the value of Ontario’s cash crop, as China looks elsewhere for its soybean needs.

Where the market might go, as the U.S. looks to sell soybeans once destined for China into other markets, is a worry for many in the industry.

Southwestern Ontario accounts for the bulk of Ontario production, but only a fraction of the global supply, shipping seven or eight million tons a year, and therefore is not a big enough player to impact price.