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“There is more uncertainty now with trade than since I’ve been farming, 18 years ago,” said Mr. Knopf. “For my generation, this is the first and most extreme trade thing we’ve been through.”
Over the last six months, he has become more skeptical of the president’s policies. In early June, he said: “We’re willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. It’s a different approach — he’s changing things up. Let’s give it a try.”
This week, Mr. Knopf sounded a darker tone: “It’s frustrating. We haven’t seen a lot of progress.” Chinese tariffs on soybeans have reduced farmers’ incomes, but American tariffs on foreign steel have significantly raised the costs of their machinery and equipment. “We’re on the wrong end of it on both sides,” he said.
The growing cycle has started again, and Mr. Knopf is planning next year’s crop. The meeting this week between Mr. Trump and Mr. Xi, he said, is “really important to farmers who are already beginning to think about and make plans for spring.”
Without an accord by planting season, “I think the mood is going to sour pretty quickly,” he said. “Patience will run out.”