Sending Office: Honorable Cheri Bustos
Farmers Need a Farm Bill Trade Fix, Not a One-Time Bailout
May 9, 2018
As you’ve likely seen, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is making the rounds on Capitol Hill this week to discuss the farm bill. He’s mentioned the challenges that our farmers and ranchers face in their export markets, and he has specifically pointed to
soybean farmers as the first off the landing craft when it comes to the Administration’s misguided trade war with the Chinese.
China’s retaliatory tariffs have already cost American agriculture dearly, from a 25 percent tariff on fruits, vegetables, nuts, and pork, to de-facto boycotts of both sorghum and soybeans. The threat of tariffs on soybeans – the second
largest crop in the U.S. – would be devastating to the rural economy. Last week, the University of Tennessee’s Institute of Agriculture released a
study on the potential impact of these tariffs, and the damage is clear.
Due to persistently low commodity prices and this Administration’s trade policy, farmers and ranchers face their biggest challenge since the farm crisis of the 1980s.
H.R. 2 ignores this danger and misses a critical opportunity to help our farmers cope with this unforced error by the Administration.
As net farm income has already fallen by 52 percent since 2013 – the largest such decline since the Great Depression – the bill does not increase support levels for farmers in these difficult times. Instead, the bill takes a backwards approach and would
only provide more help when prices are high. Furthermore, it does not increase funding for programs that seek to develop and expand overseas markets.
The farm bill should raise reference prices to provide greater assistance to farmers in times of low prices as well as invest in international market development. This is especially important when market conditions are in decline because of the Administration’s
Farmers need a thought-out, comprehensive strategy that pairs stronger risk management with increased market development resources to cope with the challenges they face on trade. They are not served by a one-time bailout.
Member of Congress
e-Dear Colleague version 2.0