"Sixty percent of U.S. soybeans are exported. China is our biggest customer," Heisdorffer told McCammon. "They take one out of every three rows, $14 billion worth of soybeans and soy products. You know, that's huge. You take all the other countries that we export to and they still don't lead up to as much as what China takes from us. So we would be actually giving that market away to a different country. South America has many more acres that can go into production, and they'd be glad to furnish what they are now plus take whatever we'd be willing to give up in a retaliation type of situation."
Not only would a trade war hurt the agriculture industry, he said, but it would have a ripple effect on the industries that depend on it, such as farming equipment manufacturers. They are on the front lines of the trade war already because they are big users of steel. Heisdorffer said he met with officials in the Commerce and Treasury departments as well as other White House staff last summer, but says he believes they don't understand how much damage the tariffs could do.