Three different political sticking points moved closer to what farmers hope is resolution late last week and over the weekend. An agreement in principle was reached on the 2018 farm bill on Thursday, the United States-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement was signed by the three countries on Friday, and a 90-day ceasefire in the trade war was reached with China on Saturday.
Indiana Farm Bureau President Randy Kron said he thinks everyone in agriculture was going into the meeting with Chinese President Xi on Saturday hoping that the rhetoric around the trade war would get dialed down.
“Nothing is going to be resolved by throwing darts back and forth. It’s going to be resolved by sitting down at the table and having communications and having some negotiations. So, to me, that’s a good first step. Let’s get it to the table, let’s start having some discussions, and get these issues resolved.”
As for the farm bill, Kron says he was on the phone with members of the Indiana delegation just yesterday reiterating its importance. He says they’re hopeful to get it through in the lame duck session.
“They’re hopeful, but the passing of President (George H.W.) Bush might push that back a couple days. They were still pretty optimistic that it was going to happen”
Trade relations with our neighbors Mexico and Canada have been historically good for US farmers as part of NAFTA, but Kron believes the USMCA agreement will bring even more good to the industry.
“We went into the negotiations with a ‘do no harm, let’s not go backwards with agricultural products’, but the Class 7 milk elimination was a win for the dairy folks because that was a really contentious area. It’s given us a little more access for poultry (turkey, chicken, eggs, etc.).”
In speaking with Kron about these topics for the past year, he’s mentioned the word “certainty” more times than I can count. I asked him if he felt any more certain today than he did a week ago after these developments.
“I’ll feel better when we get the farm bill passed and we get some trade deals signed, but there’s optimism there. We need the ink on the paper.”