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Home / US / Chickpeas are sitting in silos, while Trump's trade wars are on: NPR

Chickpeas are sitting in silos, while Trump's trade wars are on: NPR



Snow covered fields outside Kendrick, Idaho. Farmers are amazed at what is to be planted this spring as many of their traditional dryland crops are currently under production costs.

Anna King / Northwest News Network


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Anna King / Northwest News Network

Snow covered fields outside Kendrick, Idaho. Farmers are amazed at what is to be planted this spring as many of their traditional dryland crops are currently under production costs.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

On a rainy day, the farmer Allen Druffel stands in front of a silo that mixes with its feet in the gravel. In this co-op camp, he stores his dried chickpeas in the small town of Colton, Washington. The place should be busy; Trucks should ship this year's harvest to markets and international ports. But in the afternoon there is only rain.

Since farmers like Druffel brought in the harvest this year, barley garbanzos – or chickpeas – have moved. "

" Thirty to 40 percent of our total revenue is in the dustbin. "Druffel says," And we do not know what we're going to do with it. "

And it's also a bad time for lentils and peas, which are all called impulsive cultures in agriculture.The largest importers of US legumes have tariffs beaten on them, and since then they have been sitting in silos.

Allen Druffel, 34, of Colton, Washington, stands before the coop silos who hold him unsold chickpeas. He received 50 cents a pound for his harvest last year The current price is 18 cents per pound – well below its production costs.

Anna King / Northwest News Network


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Anna King / Northwest News Network

Allen Druffel, 34, of Colton, Washington, faces the co-op silos holding his unsold chickpeas. Last year he received 50 cents a pound for his harvest. Now the current price is 18 cents a pound – well below its production costs.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

Bitter Bumper

The real trouble began earlier this year when the US retired from the Trans-Pacific partnership. Then came President Donald Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs. China and India are the two largest buyers of American garbanzos, peas and lentils, and these exports have almost ceased. Other countries are reluctant to buy them while prices are unstable.

Druffel saw the market only when it was too late – after planting the crop in the spring and then again after the harvest.

"It was a kind of roller coaster ride," says Druffel. "It was one of the best harvests we've ever harvested, and seeing that the price has to go down 40 to 60 percent is really unfortunate." When you talk about real numbers, in February 2018, I sold chickpeas for 50 cents Pounds a year – and today they are traded at 18 cents a pound. "

Dirk Hammond is a bean counter. He is the bookkeeper of George F. Brocke & Sons, an exporter of pulse plants in Kendrick, Idaho.

"I tell people this year, I feel like the Grinch because of the prices," says Hammond. "And it's not something we have done as a company or any breeder or landlord – it's just a matter of world politics and world trade."

Dry chickpea beans lie between Phil Hinrich's fingers. Hinrichs Trading Co. prepares chickpeas for hundreds of products on domestic store shelves and exports bulk commodities all over the world.

Anna King / Northwest News Network


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Dry chickpea beans run between Phil Hinrich's fingers. Hinrichs Trading Co. prepares chickpeas for hundreds of products on domestic store shelves and exports the goods in large quantities all over the world.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

At Brocke & Sons, high-tech systems scour the harvest, sort out the chaff and debris, and pack the legumes for worldwide shipping. In the deafening plant, robots whirl and twirl and stack hefty sacks of chickpeas on wooden pallets.

Hammond says that this year's legumes were almost blown out of their containers. The farmers had a lot of moisture for their dry land or non-irrigated crops. So they really had great quality and yields. Farmers throughout the country have been growing more garbanzos than ever before – the acreage has been increased from 600,000 hectares to 800,000.

"Real Catastrophe"

In Moscow, Idaho, Tim McGreevy is the head of the American Pulse Association. He represents the farmers in the field of harvest pulse cultivation.

In the nearly 25 years he has been in the job, McGreevy says he has never seen such a tough market. He estimates that his pulse breeders have lost $ 500 million so far.

"Designating a bad year for export markets is a gross understatement – it was a real disaster," says McGreevy.

Soon to reopen, it will be much worse for farmers and processors.

So far, Pulse farmers have not gotten much for government payments or help. There are Bunds – and some farmers will need to take them with them to keep their harvest and hope for better prices in the spring.

In January and February, the bankers decide on the fate of the farmers. Most farms will have to borrow equipment every year to buy fuel, seeds and chemical fertilizers.

At the moment, it's a question of what needs to be planted to restore these costs. In Dryland currently does not earn much money. The prices of wheat, barley, rape, lentils, costumes and peas in this region are at or below the cost of production.

"There is not much to run right now, that's the absolute truth," says McGreevy.

McGreevy says older farmers could easily stop before the next round. However, young farmers may give the key to the farm if things do not change within months.

"Young farmers, in general, have much more debt that they accept than they just start in their careers," he says. "When they buy real estate, at prices we see now, it's very hard to get the money."

With Fareas Allen Druffel's distant spread, the dirty-white sky is indistinguishable from Earth. Only a 5 o'clock shade of wheat stubble balks out of the snow. Druffel tries to mitigate the disappointment of this year and his family's risk.

"No, that does not bother me," Druffel says softly. "It's the game we chose, I do it because I love it."

Druffel squeezed a bit, Druffel smiles. He reluctantly admits through tears:

"Oh, it hits home."


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