Tarrifs, lack of rain have made for an interesting growing season for farmers

By: Katelin Gandee - Staff writer

LAURINBURG — In Scotland County, there are more than 25 farms that have been raising soybeans, corn, wheat, cotton and more. Despite the extreme weather conditions that have hit the area, with extreme and dry heat, the crops have done well — but the new tariffs will be putting a strain on the farmers.

“In a nutshell, the tariffs are going to be universally negative,” said Scotland County Cooperative Extension Director Randy Wood. “We’re expecting soybeans to take a lot of the hit, but corn, pork and wheat will also be taking a hit as well. The tariffs won’t help us at all.”

The tariffs are a retaliation from China after President Donald Trump’s decision to levy new tariffs on more than 800 Chinese products like auto parts and steel. The Chinese take about one-third of U.S. soybeans each year and now with the tariffs, the prices in China will be higher, leaving other soybean exporters, such as Brazil, to benefit more.

Due to these tariffs, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is helping farmers across the country by supplying $12 billion dollars. Wood has heard of the plan but wasn’t sure if there would be any money trickling into Scotland County.

Wood also explained that, while the tariffs are hurting farmers who produce soybeans and corn, it’s also been hurting the poultry industry.

“A lot of the poultry industry is trying to expand,” Wood explained. “But metal prices have gone up tremendously, so has steel and that’s hurting us too.”

If there is one crop that seems to be doing well in the area, it’s cotton. Wood said he hasn’t heard if there’s going to be a huge hit on cotton cops, but a lot of the cotton is used domestically and has shown good prices. The corn crop in Scotland County is also doing very well according to Wood.

“We won’t really know until we go into the fields, but all the farmers I’ve talked to have been very happy with their corn crop this year,” he said.

That’s despite the fact that the region’s weather has settled into the usual mid-summer soar into the 90s. Each day brings a regular call for rain ranging from 20 to 70 percent most days, but Mother Nature has so far kept things closer to dry.

The average weather so far in July around Laurinburg, according to the National Weather Service out of Raleigh, was a high of 93 degrees with some days having a heat index just over 100. Scotland County has also seen just .27 inches of rain in July — far less that the average.

“The crops we’ve planted don’t mind the hot and dry weather,” Wood said. “The rain has been very scattered. There are some crops in Gibson that aren’t doing well because it’s been even drier there, but most of the crops haven’t been hurt.”

So far.

With less rain, the crops could potentially see some issues but Wood says that most are fine with just a bit of rain every couple of weeks and that the farmers are used to that type of weather.

Katelin Gandee

Staff writer

Reach Katelin Gandee at 910-506-3171 or at [email protected]

Reach Katelin Gandee at 910-506-3171 or at [email protected]