Mark O’Neill, Media and Strategic Communications Director
For Immediate Release: November 13, 2018
(Farm Bureau says New Farm Bill and
Strong Trade Agreements are Crucial)
(Hershey) – Pennsylvania Farm Bureau (PFB) says a perfect storm of low commodity prices, retaliatory trade tariffs and poor weather conditions, have made it significantly harder for Pennsylvania farmers to turn a profit.
“Farmers across the board are facing economic difficulties as the prices they receive for soybeans, corn and milk continue to fall, while an extremely wet 2018 has reduced yields and resulted in lower prices due to quality issues, such as excess crop moisture and sprout damage,” said PFB President Rick Ebert, during the state’s largest farm organization’s 68th Annual Meeting in Hershey. “Milk prices are mired in a four-year tailspin putting many dairy farmers in the unenviable position of selling off their cows or going further in debt.”
Ebert, who is a full-time dairy and crop farmer from Westmoreland County, notes that the problems experienced by farmers this year has put a spotlight on the need for swift passage of the 2018 Farm Bill.
“Without crop insurance assistance provided through the farm bill, many farmers would be in even worse shape, incurring devastating losses that could threaten their livelihood,” added Ebert. “We need members of the House and Senate Farm Bill conference committee to finalize a compromise bill, get it approved by Congress and signed by the President before the end of 2018, otherwise many key agricultural programs will be placed in jeopardy, putting further pressure on struggling farm families.”
Farm Bureau is also encouraging the Trump Administration to work swiftly to engage in new free trade agreements with crucial countries, such as Japan, and to resolve existing trade disputes with China and other countries, including Canada and Mexico, which are still imposing retaliatory tariffs on American products despite the recent United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The USMCA likely won’t go into effect until early to mid-2019, because it needs approval from Congress and legislative bodies in Canada and Mexico.
“Retaliatory tariffs from China on soybeans and pork have resulted in billions of dollars in losses for American farmers, while Mexico’s tariffs on cheese and Canada’s tariffs on meat products have directly resulted in significant losses for dairy and cattle farmers,” continued Ebert. “The export market plays a major factor in determining whether many Pennsylvania farmers are profitable or not, regardless of whether any of the food they produce ever leaves America.”
PFB says some farmers have been able to generate profits over the past few years, while those who have struggled due to the negative economic environment, are hopeful things will turn around soon.
“Farmers often refer to themselves as eternal optimists and we are resilient despite facing numerous obstacles, but with overall farm income significantly down for the fourth year in a row, many farmers are worried about their future. During 2019, Farm Bureau will be intensifying its efforts to identify and promote opportunities, programs and policies to increase agriculture sales both foreign and domestically to generate additional farm income.”
Pennsylvania Farm Bureau is the state’s largest farm organization,
representing farms of every size and commodity across Pennsylvania.