Perhaps Iowa farmers' biggest fear is becoming a harsh reality: The escalating U.S.-China trade dispute erupted Friday, with each country vowing to levy 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion in goods.

U.S. and Iowa agriculture is caught in the crossfire, with farmers selling $14 billion in soybeans to China last year, its top export market.

Soybeans are among hundreds of U.S. products China has singled out for tariffs. The U.S. has an equally long list that includes taxing X-ray machines and other Chinese goods.

Iowa farmers could lose up to $624 million, depending on how long the tariffs are in place and the speed producers can find new markets for their soybeans, said Chad Hart, an Iowa State University economist.

U.S. soybean prices have fallen about 12 percent since March, when the U.S.-China trade dispute began.

Iowa is the nation's second-largest soybean grower, producing 562 million bushels last year worth $5.2 billion.

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"It will slow down the market. Even with the tariffs in place, we will ship a lot of soybeans to China," Hart said. "It just won't be nearly the amount we did before.

China's Retaliation List

The $624 million figure is for soybeans alone. Iowa is hit by other products on China's retaliation list.

I discussed the list on June 15: Chinese Tariff List Translated, 545 Items: US Farmers and Automakers Clobbered

China's tariff list contains beef, pork, wheat, and corn.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock