We’ve all heard the expression, “When it rains, it pours.” Rensselaer farmer and Indiana Farm Bureau Vice President Kendell Culp says farmers are being poured on literally and figuratively at the moment, testing their patience.
“Because of planting delays, because of rain, and because of lower prices every day, and comments made by the administration which causes an immediate drop in in commodity prices, and really no relief in sight, no deals in sight… It’s just time and, the farmers, I just think they’re out of patience.”
Culp said he’d like to see trade issues with Canada and Mexico squared away soon, with steel and aluminum tariffs removed on those countries, especially since the administration has said that USMCA needs to be the first domino to fall to complete trade deals. As for China, he anticipated that this would be a long road.
“Even if we did have an agreement that was hammered out and announced in the short-term, the destruction caused in the marketplace and the concern about the US maybe is not such a reliable trading partner, this effect is going to have a long tail and I think it’s going to go along for multiple growing seasons before we get back to anywhere near the position we were at before the trade disruption.”
Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue has said repeatedly that trade assistance to farmers would not be repeated after last season’s Market Facilitation Program, but Vice President Mike Pence, speaking in Minnesota last week, said that trade assistance is, in fact, under consideration. Culp agreed that it should be.
“Well, it absolutely has to happen. You know, I’m the last person that would look to Washington for support like that. We farmers want to farm for the market, we’re free traders, and we’re for open markets, and we don’t look to the government for support like that. But there’s going to have to be a round two this year. There’s just no question about it.”
In addition to all of that, planting delays may be weighing most on farmers right now as planting windows remain elusive.
“The farmers I’m talking to are already talking about prevented planting, not switching from corn to beans, just to go right to prevented planting and let those acres lay idle. I don’t know, maybe that’s what needs to happen, but it’s going to take more than one year of under production to take care of the surplus we have. Part of the surplus we have in this country is because of good weather that we’ve had but, honestly, part of it is because we’re not exporting like we used to.”
President Trump said on Twitter Friday that the U.S. will use its money from the tariffs to buy American agricultural products “in larger amounts than China ever did” and send it to “poor & starving countries” for humanitarian aid. The president indicated potential purchases of $15 billion from farmers.
Hoosier Ag Today will be in Washington DC this week to discuss trade, and other topics, with top USDA officials and lawmakers including Under Secretary for Trade Ted McKinney, Senators Todd Young and Mike Braun, and Congressmen Jim Baird and Jim Banks. Hopefully, the weather will clear up enough where you can hear it in your planter.