Middle Tennessee farmers feeling pinch of tariffs
Willis Jepson is preparing the eighth generation of Jepson farmers to one day take over the family business that started in 1806 and literally grew from there.
His family owns 5,000 acres in Orlinda, Tennessee where they grow soybeans, wheat, tobacco and other crops.
“My grandfather and dad started growing soybeans probably in the 60s 50s,” Jepson said.
But more than a century of family farming could be in danger because of China’s tariffs as farmers lose money from the high cost to trade and decrease in soybean value.
Consumers could also pay more to make up for that deficit. Soybeans are in plastic, cars and several things we use daily.
“The tariff talk has already depressed the soy bean market,” Jepson said.
Less than 12 hours after the tariffs went into effect, Jepson noted soybean prices dropping $2 a bushel. Jepson’s farm has 2,000 acres full of bushels and for him, that $2 adds up quickly. He says farmers don’t control the crop price which puts their business at a disadvantage.
“We don’t get to set our price of what we buy to make our crop, we don’t get to set the price when we sell our crop. There are a lot of things that keep us up at night as farmers.” Jepson said.
While several farmers are worried, President Donald Trump says the tariff war has two perspectives from two points of view. The President says he’s correcting what he calls “unfair trade pricing” from China – a fight for America but a faulty move rattling the bottom line of farmers like the ones in middle Tennessee whose only source of income is what grows on their land.
“Farmers are just like everybody else,” Jepson said. “My kids need shoes. They need to go to school. My wife likes to take a vacation, have a car and then I’ll get her back-and-forth where she needs to go.”