Ted Rogers has been growing soybeans and wheat on these quiet fields in northwest Missouri for close to 50 years. But if things get any tougher, if the margins between making a living and failing to get by become any more narrow, he is ready to call it a day.
“I don’t know what will happen,” he says, sitting with his wife, Rhonda, as they prepare dinner one evening. “Because if it gets any closer, I don’t know how anyone could make a living. In that case, I would just retire. I don’t know.”
Farmers around the world have forever battled with the inconsistencies of variable weather and market prices that can change daily. Now, American soy farmers have another threat: a possible boycott of their product by China, the world’s largest importer, as part of a tit-for-tat trade war started by President Trump.
Many of the farmers here voted for Mr Trump. He beat Hillary Clinton in the state – 56 per cent of the vote to her 38 per cent. In Buchanan County, where Mr Rogers lives, his victory was an even more convincing 60:34.
But people are now anxious they could suffer as a result of a possible trade war that the man they voted for has claimed would be a “good thing” for America.
Last week, Mr Trump announced tariffs on at least $50bn of Chinese goods, a step he said he was taking to punish Beijing for intellectual property theft and to address a trade deficit he could no longer ignore.
The president said he considered China a friend and had “tremendous respect” for Chinese President Xi Jinping. He added: “But we have a trade deficit … there are many different ways of looking at it, but no matter which way you look at it, it is the largest trade deficit of any country in the history of the world.”
China hit back almost immediately. Its commerce ministry said Beijing planned to impose its own tariffs on $3bn of US imports, a list that ran to 120 items, and which included wine, pork and aluminium.