Illinois Farm Bureau leaders visited Washington last week, delivering another urgent push for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and calling for accountability after a controversial USDA acreage report.
“We used this trip as an opportunity to drive home the importance of accurate reporting, and we expressed the sentiment that NASS got this report completely wrong,” said Adam Nielsen, IFB director of national legislation. “There needs to be some accountability for that. I am hearing from members who lost money or are spending more money to reposition themselves. There is a lot of anger and frustration right now about that report.”
Related: Acreage numbers shock industry. Read more here.
Neither Nielsen nor IFB President Richard Guebert Jr. heard an acceptable explanation to validate the report, which showed corn acres up or unchanged in 40 of the 48 reporting states during a year with historic prevented plant claims.
Both IFB leaders last week attended the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Public Policy Conference, a gathering of state Farm Bureau presidents and staff to interact with Washington administration on relevant issues. Guebert generally felt positive about the face-to-face conversations with administration and members of Congress about the organization’s positions on key issues, from the impacts of planting delays to long-standing policies like trade.
“I left feeling a lot better about USMCA,” Guebert said. “Chairman of the House Ag Committee Collin Peterson spoke with us and was pretty confident we would see that come to the House floor sometime before the election season gets started.”
Guebert and staff visited several Democratic offices they had missed during the last visit to D.C. In those offices, they routinely conveyed IFB’s strong support for modernizing the 25-year free trade agreement with Canada and Mexico. Democrats often responded with concern about pharmaceutical prices, labor issues and methods of settling trade disputes -- issues to debate after the August recess.
Meanwhile, progress with Chinese trade seemed less imminent after conversations with Sharon Bomer, assistant U.S. trade representative for agricultural affairs and commodity policy.
“Based on that discussion, I would say we ought not to expect a quick deal with China or any other major trade development in the coming months that would even begin to make up for the lost soybean market demand,” Nielsen said.
State Farm Bureau presidents applauded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) embrace of E15. Yet, the organization’s leadership questioned EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler about the granting of small refinery waivers that have reduced corn demand for ethanol.
“He was guarded in his comments with regard to that,” Guebert said. “He said the agency is upholding the rules that are set.”
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