President Donald Trump's trade war tariffs will make recovery even more difficult for North and South Carolina farmers whose lands are being slammed by Hurricane Florence, South Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture Hugh Weathers has warned.
“We estimate the impact of tariffs on our markets to date at is $70 million,” Weathers, a fourth-generation farmer, told Yahoo Finance. “Do we add the loss that may come from the hurricane on top of that? Really, they’ll kind of coincide.”
Hurricane Florence, which made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, N.C., early Friday as a Category 1 storm, is expected to dump record amounts of rain on the Carolinas, and Weathers said that will delay the harvest season.
"When there is the rainfall that we’re expecting that impacts [getting into the fields], then harvest just is delayed," said Weathers.
The storm comes at a time after Trump's tariffs have already slammed farmers' incomes, as U.S. farm net income has dropped to about half of what it was in 2013, said Weathers, and the down cycle "is only made worse by these tariff discussions."
Agriculture is a "cyclical industry," Weathers said, and farmers are used to dealing with uncertainty, but the storms and tariffs have created an especially weak time for the industry.
In addition, South Carolina farmers were hit hard in 2015, following flooding that led to a $300 million loss in crop revenue, and in 2016, after Hurricane Matthew caused $50 million in damages, notes Yahoo.
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