President Trump tweeted July 20: "Farmers have been on a downward trend for 15 years. The price of soybeans has fallen 50% since 5 years before the Election. A big reason is bad (terrible) Trade Deals with other countries." On July 24, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., tweeted, "A study shows that corn, soybean and wheat farmers across the U.S. have already lost $13 billion because of the administration’s trade war. We need trade policies that make sense for North Dakota, protect farmers and ranchers, and open up markets."
The facts are a bit more complex, Kelly writes. Prices for soybeans and other agricultural products are based on many factors such as how much was planted, global trends, weather, and more. And though American farms made big profits from 2011 to 2014, farm income started dropping in 2013 because of bumper crops that made supply exceed demand.
Heitkamp's $13 billion figure came from Christopher Hurt, an agricultural economist at Purdue University, who was quoted in a Wall Street Journal article. But Hurt told Kelly that his figure depended on commodity futures prices, which change daily. By Aug. 8, Hurt calculated a drop of only $9 billion in corn, soybean and wheat crops, a 40 percent improvement in two weeks.