Nebraska Farm Bureau teaser (copy)

Jay Reiners operates his John Deere tractor while cultivating soybeans in Juniata, Nebraska, in 2015. 

Trade tensions between the U.S. and China have weighed heavily on Midlands agricultural producers. The situation, including frictions with Europe, have cost Nebraska producers an estimated $1 billion, the Nebraska Farm Bureau says. Iowa State University projected that Iowa could suffer a blow exceeding $2.2 billion.

Given weak commodity prices and the weather-related challenges, progress on the trade front would be much-needed positive news for the Midlands’ ag sector.

On Wednesday, Chinese officials made a sound suggestion: To set the stage for completion of trade negotiations, the U.S. and China both should begin canceling the layers of tariffs they have imposed, or threatened to impose, on each other, as good-faith gestures.

It’s encouraging that the Trump administration has signaled its agreement with the approach. U.S. officials had already been considering lifting the latest set of tariffs, levied beginning Sept. 1 on more than $100 billion of Chinese goods, to de-escalate matters as negotiations continue for a preliminary agreement this year.

The best long-term outcome is for U.S. producers to have full access to the China market, with prices and purchases determined by market conditions rather than short-term government agreements. Good-faith gestures are the best course if a comprehensive solution is to be reached.

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