'Time is running out for many in agriculture'

Farmers across the country urge quick end to China dispute.

By Deana Stroisch

Facing a third wave of tariff increases by China, Illinois farmers this week urged quick resolution to the escalating trade war.

Evan Hultine, a sixth-generation corn and soybean farmer in Princeton, appeared on CBS This Morning to explain the situation at his family’s centennial farm.

“We've seen decreased profits for the last six years, and Mother Nature's throwing us a pretty tough spring,” he said. “It's definitely not an easy time to be a farmer.”

Asked what he would say to President Donald Trump, Hultine replied: "I'd tell him that we supported him from the get-go on trying to bring China to the table and make them more accountable for their practices, but every day that this ticks on, farmers are the ones that are taking it on the jaw.”

Princeton farmer Evan Hultine was one of several Illinois farmers to appear on TV news coverage of the ongoing trade war with China this week.

Hultine was one of many Farm Bureau members who shared their personal stories through local, statewide and national media outlets. IFB members have been interviewed by a variety of media outlets including the Chicago Tribune, Crain’s Chicago Business, CNN, Fox News, Fox Business News, Newsweek, Rolling Stone and the Wall Street Journal, among others. IFB also has been contacted by overseas media including CGTN, a Chinese news outlet, China Daily and Thai News Service.

“Farmers are stressed,” Sangamon County farmer Jimmy Ayers told WICS/WRSP. “It’s very difficult to look at your livelihood and see your finances going in the opposite direction of what you’d like to see. … The faster we get this resolved, the better off we’re all going to be.”

Zippy Duvall, American Farm Bureau Federation president, urged Trump to quickly resolve the dispute with China.

“Time is running out for many in agriculture,” Duvall wrote the president. “I am hearing anecdotal reports of farmers, particularly those who are dealing with planting delays due to weather, deciding not to plant a crop this year because there’s just no market for it.”

In 2018, U.S. agricultural exports to China declined $10 billion – about a 50 percent loss, Duvall wrote. Between 2000 and 2017, the value of U.S. ag exports to China increased from 2 percent to 16 percent of total U.S. agricultural exports.

“Mitigation payments can never replace lost markets, but as long as these trade disruptions continue, we ask that your administration provide assistance so farmers and ranchers can continue to farm,” Duvall wrote.

Ted McKinney, USDA undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs, confirmed that a second round of trade assistance is in the works. He told reporters in Washington that details would be announced in “days – not weeks, months.”

“The intent is to be quick because we want to send a powerful message to first our farmers and ranchers and the ag world, and also to our friends around the world, that ag is not up for debate,” he said.