The visit by VP Pence to a Boone County farm on Thursday was all about trade, but he heard more than just a call for a trade deal. Pence came to listen to what farmers had to say, and what he heard was a call for adoption of the USMCA trade agreement. Pence assured the farmers that he and the President are firmly in support of the trade agreement that will replace NAFTA but called on Congress to do its part, “The President has done his part, now it is time for Congress to do theirs.”
However, the farmers also gave Mr. Pence a strong message on the poor state of the farm economy and the financial stress that many growers are experiencing. Kendell Culp, from Jasper County, said the situation is getting serious, “We are spending our savings to subsidize our farming operations; and, as you know, that cannot go on for very long.” Mike Beard, from Clinton County, said many growers are running out of money and patience, “As we get ready to plant the crop for this year, some of us have not sold the crop from last year. With the planting of the new crop, it brings the urgency to an immediate level.”
Quick action is needed, according to Jeff Demerly of Wolcott. “Something needs to be done now,” he stated. Young farmer Jacob Smoker said something needs to be done to stimulate the farm economy, “Just getting something back into the market to get it functioning again would be great. It would give us as young farmers some certainty and help us put together operating lines of credit and help us show bankers we can make a profit in 2019.” Smoker said, after talking with the VP, he is more optimistic about the future, “I feel incredibly confident after having him here and being able to talk with him one-on-one. It firms up the belief that our message will get back to Washington.”
While the farmers came away more optimistic, in reality we start the week no closer to a resolution than we were last week.