'It's all about the relationships'

IFB's concerns with trade aid package include other countries' opportunities to capture market share while new deals are being negotiated.

By DeLoss Jahnke

This week’s announcement by USDA to provide relief to farmers affected by retaliatory tariffs, while appreciated by ag groups, is also being received as a signal that trade negotiations could take longer than farmers would prefer.

Whether it’s customers around the world, such as China, or even next-door neighbors like Mexico and Canada, trade instability leads to market insecurity, especially as it provides opportunities for US ag competitors.

“Especially when you’re dealing with Southeast Asian countries, they certainly have a traditional and cultural way of negotiating these agreements,” said Mark Gebhards, executive director of governmental affairs and commodities at Illinois Farm Bureau. “And it’s all about the relationships, and I think what we’re playing with right now is the relationship. The damage you do to that relationship, long-term, it may take a long time to re-establish that.”

Mark Gebhards, Illinois Farm Bureau executive director of governmental affairs and commodities
Mark Gebhards, Illinois Farm Bureau executive director of governmental affairs and commodities.

Related: $12 billion plan to help farmers announced. Read more here.

Gebhards points to a recent agreement between Japan and the European Union as an example of where trade is being disrupted.

“Other countries are not sitting still,” he told the RFD Radio Network®. “They’re seeing this as a tremendous opportunity to get their foot in the door, get their market agreement in place, and for a long-term situation, make sure they have stability.

“It took us decades to build these agreements, and it could take decades to re-establish them.”

As for the aid package, Gebhards said it may take some time – maybe until September – before farmers receive details on how the $12 billion will be allocated.

Content for this story was provided by FarmWeekNow.com.