The largest U.S. farm group urged trade negotiators “to write the next chapter” in Sino-U.S. relations this week by eliminating trade war tariffs that are depressing ag exports, an important part of farm income. On Monday, the USDA reported an uptick in soybean exports to China, but there was no sign of large “goodwill” purchases on the eve of negotiations in Shanghai.
The Sino-U.S. trade war, which as stymied U.S. farm exports, "is going to be a long one, and we keep delivering the message, 'We're with you, Mr. President,'" said the leader of the largest U.S. farm group on Sunday, adding a caveat. "The runaway of our patience is going to be determined by the financial situation of our farms. We went into the battle very weak." (No paywall)
On Wednesday, three state Farm Bureau presidents told administration leaders, including President Trump, that farmers, hit hard by retaliatory tariffs, need open markets soon. “There’s a fairly short runway,” said South Dakota’s Scott VanderWal.
Voting against the farm bill can invite electoral consequences, the president of the largest U.S. farm group wrote in an essay. “Rural America still packs an influential punch,” he said.
The National Farmers Union said it opposes the Republican-written farm bill awaiting a vote in the House. The American Farm Bureau Federation, for its part, said the partisan split over the bill was not an insurmountable barrier to passing a new farm and public nutrition law this year.
As the House potentially takes up immigration reform in the coming weeks, the largest U.S. farm group wants to make sure agricultural labor is part of the legislation. The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee has revised his plan for a new, year-round H-2C visa program to make it more attractive to farmers, who worry about their existing, undocumented workforce as well as the creation of a more manageable guestworker program.
Speaking to a friendly farm crowd, President Trump, who proposed a 36 percent cut in long-term funding for crop insurance last May, said he will work with Congress for a 2018 farm bill “that delivers for all of you and I support a bill that includes crop insurance.” Trump responded to the standing ovation for crop insurance by adding, "I guess you like it."
As President Trump observed, "a hundred is so much cooler," so he feels the attraction of speaking to the largest U.S. farm group on its Centennial next year, in New Orleans. "Next year, I'll come back. All right? We'll come back."
President Trump said he intends to win "a better deal for our country and our farmers and our manufacturers" in negotiations for the new NAFTA, and Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley says he'll hold him to it. NAFTA "will be a major test of the president's impact on rural America going forward," said Grassley, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and chair of the Judiciary Committee.