ELBURN, Ill. (WLS) -- A potential trade war with China is causing a lot of concern for Illinois farmers, particularly those producing soybeans. They are America's leading agricultural export, worth more than $21 billion a year, and China accounts for nearly 60 percent of that. Now the Chinese government is threatening to impose a 25 percent tariff.
"Well it's gonna affect the ag economy, it's going to take money out of our pockets, we are already in a really tight profit margin right now," said Joe White, an Elburn farmer who has about 1,000 acres, 600 of corn and about 400 of soybeans.
White has been farming all his life and with planting season just around the corner, he's watching the weather and the news about trade with China, concerned about a possible trade war.
"The escalation is, I think, the biggest concern at this point. The tariffs haven't gone in place yet, they're not scheduled to go in place until June," White said.
He still has grain in his silos left over from last season that he needs to sell, but the trade tensions have pushed down prices even without the tariffs being in place. White and other farmers would suffer if the US goes through with $50 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods, because China has threatened to respond with the same penalty.
"Typically when the ag economy does poorly it drags the rest of the economy down eventually, it may take a year or two but it will because we stop buying machinery, we stop buying vehicles, we stop spending money period," White said.
Friday the Dow Jones average fell 574 points, more than 2 percent, fueled by concerns about a trade war after the president threatened to impose another $100 billion in tariffs and China vowed to retaliate.
The CTA could also be impacted in it's $1.3 billion deal with a Chinese company to produce 836 train cars.
In a statement the transit agency said, "CTA is looking into the possible impacts, if any, of the proposed tariffs on our current rail car contract. This contract was signed two years ago, and our expectation is that our vendor will comply with all the federal requirements that apply to this contract."
Farmers like White, who are used to uncertainty, hope politics won't soil this season.
"Well, I hope cooler heads get together and the current administration works with these foreign countries and negotiate a trade deals that are beneficial to both parties," White said.
Illinois farmers worried about possible trade war with China