Leaders to Washington: 'We're at a breaking point'

By Ashley Rice

Illinois Farm Bureau Leaders to Washington participants let their respective members of Congress know that they are at a breaking point.

Joseph Engel, a dairy farmer and father of six from Kane County, shared his thoughts. “I’ve had enough to stomach the last few years, and we’re at a breaking point,” said Engel. You can only hold out for so long.”

Christina Willman of Stephenson County, an agriculture attorney in northern Illinois, works on these issues with clients daily.

“The calls for bankruptcy are increasing every day,” said Willman. “Farmers are dipping into their equity and considering liquidation. They’re debating whether they should pass farms down to their children. More farms close every year.”

She noted that her clients’ bottom lines are being drastically affected by weather, trade issues and markets.

Not only does the foreclosure or liquidation of farms affect families, it decreases opportunities and economic activity in rural economies.

“We’re at the point in the 1980s where we say, ‘find another job’ (off the farm) to our children,” added Mark Tuttle, IFB District 1 director. “I’m very concerned about the future of the next generation.”

As agriculture and daily life become more technologically driven, broadband access becomes even more critical.

As a farmer and grain merchandizer, Evan Quinn of Lee County knows all too well the importance of reliable broadband access. “We follow the marketplace for commodities and being able to give live quotes to customers is important,” explained Quinn. “Broadband is critical on and off the farm.”

Driving to town to access adequate broadband is becoming a common story in rural areas.

Kody Aldrich of Lawrence County shared that sentiment. “We often drive to the local McDonald’s over 10 miles away to get sufficient internet to complete routine farm business electronically,” noted Aldrich.

Leaders to Washington participants also thanked their senators and representatives for passing USMCA and shared cautious optimism regarding the phase one trade deal with China.

This story was provided by FarmWeekNow.com.