Deere & Co. CEO and Chairman Samuel Allen says he’s worried about the lasting impact a trade war could have on U.S. producers, particularly soybean growers.
The ongoing U.S.-China trade dispute “is painful … especially in the soybean commodity area,” says Allen. “Our concern in the near term is it’s painful for some that are very leveraged. In the longer term, the issue we’re worried most about is that as China buys soybeans from Brazil or whoever, structurally, countries like Brazil will be able to bring more land into production quicker, and as a result of doing that we’ll end up with an oversupply for a longer period of time which will mean that the pain the U.S. farmer is feeling now will go on for a much longer period of time, much like the grain embargo in the ‘80s.
“We’re concerned today but we’re more concerned if this does not get resolved about the structural changes that it might force on the global supply of soybean and other commodities.”
China’s tariffs on U.S. soybeans and other commodities are in retaliation to tariffs enacted by the U.S. on Chinese made products, including aluminum and steel.
Allen concedes China’s theft of intellectual property is a problem for the U.S. — which is often used as justification for the ongoing trade war between the two countries. However, he prefers such issues to be handled through private negotiations.
Allen’s comments came during a recent interview with CNBC, when he also answered questions about the construction industry and the Federal Reserve.
In the interview he also contends the Fed is raising interest rates too quickly, and if this pattern continues it could negatively impact overall economy. Allen says recent conversations with dealers and producers show they are worried about a coming economic slowdown.
“It’s clearly on top of mind right now; we have seen a slowing of order book activity that indicates what might happen," he says. "As opposed to a specific number, it’s about conversations we’ve had with our customers and dealers that indicate that this is top of mind and they are concerned if [interest] rates continue to rise that it will have an impact.”
Allen also says he does not expect any new commodity trade deals to come out of the upcoming G20 meeting in Argentina. “In my mind we’re in the negotiation phase right now, and to immediately come to a conclusion this quickly that would be a very pleasant surprise but not one expected by our party.”