Local farmers struggling after trade war, no farm bill

Local News

President Donald Trump recently tweeted that the recent United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMC) transaction “Greatly opens markets to our farmers and manufacturers.” 

But how are local farmers being affected by the agreement and the expiration of the farm bill?

Despite the new trade deal between the United States, Mexico and Canada, local farmers are still uncertain with the current state of the market. They also don’t have much hope a farm bill will be agreed on before the midterm elections in November.

Yates City farmer Joe Webel discussed what farmers are looking for out of the market, and what they’re expecting out of Washington D.C., also saying that expiring farm bills are nothing new. 

“Farm bills have expired in the past, and small extensions have been filed,” Webel said. 

The farm bill expired without Congress passing a new version, which then left several programs in peril. Local farmers want to have confidence in their crop markets, and without the farm bill, they don’t have it.

“Certainly we want to see that farm bill get done and provide again certainty for our future.”

Late Sunday, the United States and Canada announced the USMCA, which the president believes will “Opens markets to our farmers and manufacturers.” 

But here in Central Illinois, soybean farmers’ crops value have dropped tremendously since Labor Day.

“I don’t know of any farmers I’ve talked to that would rather have support in that way, instead they’d rather have value in the market,” said Webel.  “There’s been tremendous market disruption through this process, we’ve gone from losing 25 percent of our value of soybeans from Memorial Day to fall harvest this year.”

Webel doesn’t expect a new Farm Bill to be negotiated before the November election, saying many times the reason a Farm Bill isn’t passed is a partisan issue, not actually anything relating to farming.

“Many times the challenges of passing what is the farm bill actually have nothing to do with things that are happening here on the farm level,” he said. 

And with all the work farmers do, their one request is certainty.

“We want to know the rules we’re going to be playing under in the future,” Webel said. “When you put out hundreds of thousands of dollars of inputs each year hoping to harvest it and market it for a hopeful profit, then as much certainty as can be gathered is an important thing.”

Webel said he understands Washington D.C. has bigger issues to face at the current moment, but that after the midterm elections in November, the government needs to come together and put together a farm bill.

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