AFR President Scott Blubaugh on Capitol Hill Advocating for Economic Relief, End to Trade WarMon, 09 Sep 2019 13:07:29 CDT
Each year, American Farmers & Ranchers leaders join their counterparts from AFR's sister organizations of the National Farmers Union from across the country to participate in a legislative fly-in to Washington, DC to speak with our nation's policy leaders about issues important to the agriculture industry and rural America. Scott Blubaugh, president of AFR, is in DC this week for that annual meeting and spoke over the phone with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Associate Farm Director Carson Horn about the progress that has been made so far. You can listen to that complete phone conversation between Blubaugh and Horn by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of the page.
According to Blubaugh, the initial briefing with United States Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney this morning was less positive than he and the delegation from Oklahoma had hoped, painting a rather bleak picture about the current trade front.
"We didn't hear great news. This looks like it's going to be a prolonged trade war," Blubaugh said. "Doesn't look like anything is on the horizon to end it and quite frankly- I don't think they know what to do over there. In the meantime, they're just putting out these band-aids, but no one is addressing the real problem."
Blubaugh asserts that Congressional leaders need to work with the Administration to either quickly resolve the trade war and reopen those markets now closed to the US, especially China, or reopen the Farm Bill to add some sort of supply management system to help mitigate the economic pressures stemming from the current oversupply of grain that continues to weaken domestic agricultural markets.
"The message we're taking up here is that times are really tough in agriculture. Our income is down 50 percent on most all commodities, and we are at a level of income now that is causing a lot of financial stress out in the country," he said, citing the rising difficulty farmers and ranchers are having securing operating loans or extending credit along with an increasing trend of payment defaults. "When the farmer isn't doing well, none of the other agribusinesses can do well. So, we're up here telling that message and telling Congress we need relief."
While grateful for the Market Facilitation Payments that have been issued by the Administration, Blubaugh retorts that the payments are simply not enough to make recipients whole from the money lost as a result of the ongoing trade war and argues that the program is not sustainable for the long term.
Until such time that the situation is resolved, Blubaugh assures that AFR will continue to be actively engaged in the legislative process and staunchly advocate on stakeholders' behalf to keep the pressure on policy leaders to find a speedy solution. In addition, he says AFR will also continue to provide resources to farmers and ranchers to help them through these difficult economic times.
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