Among the mounting concerns, Illinois farmer Bob Gurkey is juggling. He is racing against the clock to harvest his corn and soybeans. Bob spends up to 14 hours a day in the fields. Biggest concern right now of harvesting that we don’t get stuck, and we get the crops out before Mother Nature throws snow at us. But his worries don’t end there. The marketers’ advice even this spring never was calling for soybeans to go down to this extreme, but they weren’t thinking there was going to be a tariff. Bob is talking about Chinese tariffs on US grain products, a retaliatory move after the United States slapped tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum. It’s brought down soybean prices as much as two dollars this year. That’s a big deal for a farmer who’s counting on that yield and that farm income.

Tamara Nelson, Senior Director of Commodities for the Illinois Farm Bureau, is concerned. This is a fifth straight year of lower farm income, I think the second lowest farm incomes since 2012. Nelson says news of a pending trade agreement between the US, Mexico and Canada to replace NAFTA so far isn’t doing much to put farmers at ease. Whether or not that was achieved because of the tariff threats remains to be seen because the steel and aluminum tariffs still remain on Mexico and Canada, and their retaliatory tariffs threatened against us still remain.

Farmer Bob Gurkey had hoped decades of negotiations and relationships in China would be paying off, reversing declining farm income by keeping one of the largest markets for US soybeans open. And we built trade up to where it was working. And now within a matter of six months, a lot of that has been knocked down, maybe even devastated to where will it come back how long it’s going to take to come back. The US Department of Agriculture’s twelve billion dollar aid package was supposed to be a silver lining while it helps offset his lower soybean prices.

They’re saying that we would get, I believe it’s a dollar sixty a dollar sixty five a bushel. Gurkey says it doesn’t help this corn, it’s a penny. Well, why even bother if you’re gonna give us a penny, that’s more a paperwork than it’s worth. And then then they’re a package what they present two hundred million is for market development. It’s like we had the market. Nice, that’s that sort of a joke. Soybeans are still being sold around the world even if they might not be going to China. Sales to Europe and Argentina are up this year, so the question remains are the trade tactics adopted by President Trump and his administration ultimately working.

That’s probably the sixty four thousand dollars question. I think if you ask most farmers right now, they’ll say no; you ask them maybe a year from now, six months from now, it might change their mind. Six months from now, Gurkey himself will be in a very different mindset, shifting gears from harvesting his crops to planting seeds in the ground for a new growing season, a season he hopes is filled with more certainty.

Kane Farabaugh VOA news Elgin Illinois.







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