By Deana Stroisch
Illinois Farm Bureau joined nine other Midwestern state Farm Bureaus last week asking for U.S. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue’s help in ending the trade dispute with China.
“Mr. Secretary, you and President Trump have done great things for rural America in your short time. Please don’t risk the gains we have made on so many fronts by making agricultural producers casualties of this trade dispute,” according to the May 15 letter signed by presidents of state Farm Bureaus in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
In 2017, ag trade between those Midwestern states and China amounted to about $4.5 billion, they wrote. Illinois ag trade with China amounts to $1.85 billion a year.
Related: U.S. soybean official skeptical that China has shut off supply line. Read more here.
The group also addressed Trump’s request for Perdue to develop a plan to compensate farmers affected by any new tariffs.
“While we appreciate the sentiment behind such a request, this effort seems to negate the work our organizations have done to reduce the need for taxpayer assistance for agriculture,” according to the letter. “As you know, our farm and ranch families prefer access to markets, not checks from the federal government in lieu of trade opportunities.
“It’s also important to note that while the exact losses will be difficult to fully calculate, the size of the potential payments are likely to fall far short of the losses farmers and ranchers could experience as a result of this potential trade dispute.”