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West’s Pea and Lentil Farmers Struggling As US, India Delay Trade Talks

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Marco Verch/Flickr Creative Commons
Brown lentils

Trade spats between the United States with China and Canada have dominated headlines as of late. But we are also in an ongoing dispute with India and it’s crippling so-called “pulse crop” farmers in the Mountain West.

"Pulse crop" is a term used to describe beans, lentils and chickpeas.

Last year, India raised its tariffs on a number of legumes grown in the U.S. in response to the Trump administration slapping tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum.

Since then, prices have been in a downward spiral, said Tim McGreevy with the U.S. Dry Pea and Lentil Council.

“Peas have lost 33 percent of their value,” McGreevy said. “Lentils have lost 50 percent of their value and chickpeas have lost about 60 percent of their value.”

Montana is the country’s biggest producer of pulse crops, he said, adding that the effects are being felt there the most. India was the world’s biggest consumer of U.S. pulse crops before this trade dispute.

“If India is going to close their doors, then we are certainly as an organization and as an industry are looking to increase our sales here domestically,” he said.

U.S. and Indian trade representatives called off a Nov. 2 meeting. Citing a lack of progress on negotiations, talks have been postponed for the foreseeable future.

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