The US agriculture industry, often the first to feel the hit of trade disputes, is bracing itself as nations threaten to retaliate

A farm in Arizona. US agricultural exports are worth about $140bn a year.
Photograph: Zuma/Rex/Shutterstock 
A farmer in Arizona.  US agricultural exports are worth about $140 Billion a year.   

America’s farmers are about to start harvesting the wheat crop. Close to 60m tonnes are gathered annually and almost half is usually exported. Where this crop will be sold, though, remains an open question.

As Donald Trump’s trade war escalates, a lot of farmers are worried. Trump was elected, in part, on a promise to put America’s interests first and crack down on what he characterizes as a world trade system rigged against the US.  But until recently the president has acted like many of his predecessors – talking tough on the campaign trail but backtracking in the White House.

By Stephanie Mercier

Our history shows the way.  Hemp was one of the earliest crops grown commercially in this country, long before the United States actually became a sovereign nation.  The first formal record of its production appeared in a tax revenue document in the colony of Virginia in 1632.  Raw hemp and hemp products were a key export from the American colonies to Great Britain, used for ship rigging, clothing, maps, books, sails and tents.  Contemporaneous records indicate that two of our first three Presidents, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, raised hemp on their Virginia plantations.  This crop, along with wheat and corn, was commonly planted on farms as the United States expanded westward, although not in large acreage overall.

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