Farmers share challenges, concerns with Shimkus

U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, hears concerns from farmers on the wet planting season, impacts of prevented planting and trade.

U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, meets with farmers in Edwards, Clark and Shelby counties. (Photos by Catrina Rawson)

By Katie Zelechowski

Farm Bureau members in Edwards, Clark and Shelby counties postponed final planting duties on a clear, sunny day this week to visit with U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville.

Several farmers in attendance were eager to resume planting after discussing the challenges surrounding this year’s growing season, trade disputes and health care issues with the congressman.

Edwards County farmers Kent and Jamilyn Marks welcomed Shimkus, his staff and several farmers from surrounding counties to their farm. Shimkus listened as farmers expressed their frustrations with the wet planting season and the resulting uncertainty of the upcoming harvest.

“I asked them to share with me their dreams, their aspirations and their concerns, and that’s what I’m relating to,” said Shimkus.  

(Photo by Catrina Rawson)

When asked by Shimkus what was most concerning, Jamilyn said, “to be honest, we just want our crop in the ground.” Several participants echoed this sentiment, calling attention to the negative impact each planting delay has had on community morale.

“Going out and talking to these producers helps me relay (their concerns) even more compassionately because I’m not reading their letters. I can see it in their eyes,” Shimkus told the RFD Radio Network.

As farmers within the group continued to talk with the congressman about the impacts of prevented planting, conversations turned to trade. Several farmers voiced concerns about the pressing need to ratify the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Shimkus shared that he fears this legislation may be “tied-up in politics” in coming months.

Recognizing farmers within his district as those who will bear the brunt if the USMCA does not pass, Shimkus said, “We still have a lot of the season left ahead of us. We want to be careful making proclamations that ‘we’re gonna be fine.’”  

Similar discussions took place at Brandon Daugherty’s farm in Clark County near West Union and Aaron Downs’ farm in Shelby County. At each meeting, farmers expressed worry about crops they had planted up to three times.

Health insurance for self-employed individuals was also discussed, with many farmers citing the increasing age of the average farmer and the growing need for the next generation to take over family farms as being cause for reform.

“Some of the comments, especially from the younger people, were that health insurance was beginning to be a pretty big expense for them,” said Clark County Farm Bureau President Brad Daugherty.

When reflecting on his meeting with Shimkus, Brad said he believes the congressman has the best interest of his farming constituents at heart. “He’s always been a friend to agriculture, and still is,” Brad said. “He’s there for us. I truly believe that.”

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