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Corona flu virus slows Idaho trade

BOISE -- Last August the scene near Grangeville had combines bringing in another excellent harvest. But, in just a matter of weeks, the coronavirus broke out in China. The big question? Is the fast-spreading flu virus affecting Idaho trade deals?

"The coronavirus is affecting Idaho trade," said Jacobson of the Idaho Wheat Commission.

After the stage 1 trade deal was signed between the US and China, Idaho wheat farmers were optimistic that they would sell and ship more wheat to China immediately, but with factory shutdowns in China, ports grinding to a halt, it hasn’t happened.

"There economy is going backward," said Jacobson. "It's putting a downward effect on the expected purchases of American agricultural products."

Idaho ranks 5th in the nation in wheat production with growers producing more than 100 million bushels. Nearly half of all Idaho wheat is sold to foreign markets making it one of our top export products. But so far Idaho has not missed the Asian markets:

"We haven't noticed the loss of China sales because we didn't have them before. We were just expecting to get those sales. The immediate impact has been with the other Asian customers. We just rescheduled a trip from some representatives from Japan and also from Korea, they're still buying wheat but they are not making the in-person visits as they'd do normally," said Jacobson.

Last year Idaho exported more than $2 billion dollars in commodities and food. While this year started out bright: the big question remains how deep will the virus cut into Idaho Exports?