Crop insurance, infrastructure need farmer support

Illinois Farm Bureau president urges members to keep in contact with elected officials on these and other issues important to agriculture. An upcoming event offers an excellent opportunity to do just that.

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Illinois Farm Bureau President and Randolph County farmer Richard Guebert, right, said IFB continues to identify health care options for Illinois farmers. The project will continue with a health care summit, March 13 in Bloomington.

By Jeff Brown

Even with spring planting right around the corner, now is not the time for Illinois farmers to divert any of their attention away from the political arena, said Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert Jr.

During an interview with the RFD Radio Network® this week, Guebert expressed concern over President Donald Trump’s financial approach to both infrastructure improvement and crop insurance – two issues critical to agriculture.

Pointing to remarks Trump made at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s convention last month and his proposed budget plan earlier this month, Guebert said the president has been largely silent on the need to upgrade the nation’s locks and dams.

“Not much was said – or anything at all – for locks and dams in the $1.5 trillion worth of infrastructure improvements that he’s proposing,” Guebert said. “That was kind of disappointing but we’ll continue to work, because we know how vitally important locks and dams are.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to close six of the eight Illinois River locks and dams during the summer of 2020 for maintenance work. Guebert said farmers need to be aware of those closings so they can plan around them.

Related: More details about which locks and dams will be affected and for how long. Read more here.

Crop insurance, which remains IFB’s top legislative priority, has also attracted farmer attention in recent days.  

The fiscal year 2019 budget framework Trump recently released cuts crop insurance by $26 billion over 10 years.

“The president’s budget was a bit concerning,” Guebert said. “He wants to take crop insurance to the woodshed, you might say, and make some drastic cuts.”

The Ellis Grove farmer encouraged members to let their elected officials know how much they need the risk-management program to continue.

Prior to heavy rains that fell on the state this week, dry fields in many parts of Illinois had some farmers thinking back to the drought of 2012. Guebert said some of his neighbors in Randolph County might not be in business without crop insurance.

“We’d be in pretty tough shape,” he said. “Some of us probably wouldn’t be here today, putting a crop out this spring, if it weren’t for crop insurance. We’ve told the story time and time again to our legislators in Washington D.C., how important crop insurance is.”

IFB members will get a chance to interact with some of their elected officials during the Governmental Affairs Leadership Conference, March 14-15 in Springfield.

Guebert said this year’s event is especially unique with so many new faces running for political office in Illinois.

“I can’t stress enough for our members to be engaged in the ACTIVATOR process,” he said. “Get to know the candidates, know their positions and see if they share the same views that you do and have the concerns that you have back on the farm or in your local communities.”

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