IFB members: We need trade

Farmers for Free Trade 11-state tour includes stops in Illinois

Illinois Farm Bureau urged lawmakers to support trade and ratify the USMCA during the Farmers For Free Trade "Motorcade for Trade" tour, which stopped in Illinois this week and last. Illinois farmers export 34 percent of their pork to USMCA countries. (Illinois Farm Bureau file photo)

By Deana Stroisch

llinois Farm Bureau members this week continued to advocate for expanded trade opportunities and passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

A group of farmers met with U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-East Moline, at the Muller-Pinehurst Dairy in Rockford. Last week, IFB members met with U.S. Reps. Sean Casten, D-Downers Grove, and Lauren Underwood, D-Naperville, in downtown Chicago.

The discussions were part of Farmers for Free Trade’s “Motorcade for Trade” tour. A 25-foot RV decorated with trade facts traveled 3,500 miles across 11 states — stopping at farms and small businesses along the way — to highlight the importance of agricultural trade with Mexico and Canada.

Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-East Moline, met with Bobby Dowson, Bureau of Marketing, Promotion and Grants, IDOA, and Steve Fricke, president, Winnebago-Boone Farm Bureau. (Photo by DeAnne Bloomberg)                                                                                                                                                                                 
Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-East Moline, met with Bobby Dowson, Bureau of Marketing, Promotion and Grants, IDOA, and Steve Fricke, president, Winnebago-Boone Farm Bureau. (Photo by DeAnne Bloomberg)

 

Earl Williams, IFB District 2 Director, was among the group who met with Bustos in Rockford.

“Our message to her was that all of agriculture is hurting right now,” Williams said. “We realize politics are at play in Washington, but this is too important. There needs to be some way to get this passed.”

The group of farmers asked Bustos to support USMCA and to help her colleagues understand the importance of the trade agreement.

Brent Pollard of Winnebago-Boone Farm Bureau said Mexico and Canada remain large trading partners for his farm’s corn, soybeans and milk.

“The value for Illinois' agricultural exports to those countries alone was $2.8 billion last year with a frayed trading relationship due to politics,” Pollard said. “With the dairy farm economy struggling since 2014 and my parents' retirement from grain farming, I’m a younger farmer who needs all of the markets I can to maintain our family farm.”

Bustos said she appreciated hearing from farmers during the roundtable discussion.

“It’s clear that the president’s reckless trade war has not done them any good, and instead, we must focus on policy that helps grow their business and expand markets,” Bustos said. “As for the USMCA, the steel and aluminum tariffs, labor issues and enforcement are of concern, but I hope we can find a bipartisan consensus that will benefit our agricultural economy.”

The Farmers for Free Trade tour ends today in Montana.

Content for this story was provided by FarmWeekNow.com

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