PLAIN CITY, Ohio — Between extreme weather events, global tariff fights and unsettled markets, 2019 has been one of the most challenging years Fred Yoder has ever had as a farmer.

  • Friday’s “Phase One” of the trade deal puts an end to a 526-day trade war between the U.S. and China
  • The deal came just days before a scheduled tariff hike
  • A central Ohio farmer and economist both agree it’s a good first step, but expect additional phases

But he says the long-anticipated US-China Phase One trade agreement is a step in the right direction.

“What's going to be great about it is we're going to ship value-added corn and soybeans over there with meat, such as pork, poultry and beef. That high-value agriculture is really going to help the farmers,” said Fred Yoder.

Phase One will also be a benefit to U.S. dairy farmers, a group that has faced real struggles the past few years.

Yoder’s son Josh, the fifth-generation farmer from the Yoder family, says the trade agreement is much needed relief.

“Cause it seems like we've been in this same kind of roundabout mode of, you know, it’s going to happen, it’s not going to happen, it’s going to happen, it’s not going to happen. So, it finally feels like we're at that point. I'll feel good when the ink is actually dry,” said Josh Yoder. 

Phase One of the trade deal calls for the U.S. to suspend tariffs on $160 billion in Chinese goods and roll back its existing tariffs.

China has agreed to increase purchases of US good by $200 billion over the next two years, including $50 billion a year for US farm products.

Ohio State Economics Professor and agriculture expert Dr. Ian Sheldon questions why there's no mention of subsidies in the agreement.

He says there's some good in the deal, but points to the fact that all the tariffs implemented in 2018 on $250 billion dollars of Chinese goods will remain unchanged.

“I think we've stopped the trade war from escalating, which is a good thing. So far, the benefits of this agreement won't outweigh the cost we've incurred by having a trade war,” said Sheldon. “We went from exporting one in three rows of soybeans to maybe one in ten. That was a significant loss in market share. So, hopefully some of that will rebound and famers can maybe stabilize their incomes.”

Members of the Yoder family say they're hoping for big things in 2020.

And they're optimistic the Phase One deal with China is the first of several agreements that will help farmers thrive in the next decade.

“It's not the perfect deal. They're going to go ahead and intermediately start on phase two,” said Fred Yoder. “The intellectual property is a big deal and we have to figure out ways to check them on that. I think these new markets will emerge. I think we'll have new high-value products that we will offer China, and I think this probably the bottom of the cyclone, we're on our way up, hopefully.”