North Dakota soybean producers eyeing Europe to ease trade war issues

MINOT, N.D.- Agriculture is the largest economic driver in the Peace Garden State, but farmers who grow one of our key crops have found themselves in the middle of a trade war.

This week, U.S. and Chinese officials are meeting in Washington to try to come to a resolution, but for now, many farmers in North Dakota are left holding on to their harvest.

Out of states that export soybeans in America, North Dakota ranks number 2. However, the last year has been tough for soybean farmers after tariffs were placed by China on the crop, leaving North Dakota farmers hard pressed to find new markets.

"We've been looking at other markets and have been able to move some soybeans, but it has been very challenging on farmers," said North Dakota Soybean Council Research Director Kendall Nichols.

Soybean exports out of the Pacific Northwest, where most North Dakota harvests end up, are roughly 1/4 of what they were at this time last year.

But, a new decision by the European Union to clear soybeans as a source for biofuel could open up new opportunities for exports.

"I think the EU and the world itself is looking for more natural fuels and recyclable products," Nichols said.

China still remains the number 1 destination for American soybeans, but producers in the Peace Garden State are looking more toward Europe and the Middle East to sell their crop.

The United States took over Brazil as Europe's top provider of soybeans, however the South American soybean powerhouse has been China's top choice to make up for U.S. trade.