The American Soybean Association (ASA) board meeting and Hill visits couldn’t have come at a better time as farmer’s concerns for trade and farm bill negotiations continue to rise.
This week, Minnesota’s five ASA directors and three of Minnesota Soybean Growers Association’s (MSGA) executive team flew to Washington, D.C. to meet with other soybean farmers from across the country before taking their concerns to the Hill.
“Often times, farmers in different regions of the country are struggling with different issues,” said MSGA President Michael Petefish, one of the three executive leaders who attended. “But the dynamic of this meeting was quite different. Everyone had two things on their mind – China tariffs and getting a farm bill passed so we can have some certainty.”
The eight Minnesota soybean farmers spent the first and second day being briefed on federal issues, followed by meetings with senators and representatives on Capitol Hill.
“Farmers need certainty,” MSGA Secretary Bob Worth told Rep. Rick Nolan (D-MN). “We need to make sure something is in line to protect our farmers, allowing them to farm another year, especially with today’s farm economy. We need this farm bill.”
Worth reiterated to each legislator that today’s down farm economy, which started years before the trade issue with China, is affecting every farmer, but especially the young ones.
“I’m lucky that I have equity behind my name,” he says. “But I’m scared for these young ones. I’m afraid we’re going to lose another generation of farmers. What bank is going to loan them money when we are barely breaking even?”
Worth also told the story of a healthy farm economy trickles down to all areas of the rural economy.
“Farmers are tightening their belts right now,” he said. “When the farm economy isn’t doing well, no one is doing well. We are spending less within our community.”
The talk of the down economy and farm bill went hand-in-hand with the discussion of trade and trade deals.
“We are going to have to continue working on our relationship with China, Mexico and Canada,” said Bill Gordon, ASA treasurer and Worthington, Minn., farmer. “We are asking our legislators to support additional MAP and FMD funding in the farm bill.”
Additional legislative priorities included increasing Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) volumes and additional funding for infrastructure and transportation, especially in rural communities.
“We can only continue talking about what farmers are facing today,” Worth said. “There are many pieces to the puzzle that got us to where we are today. The uncertainty when it comes to trade or the farm bill is just another piece. But as farmers, it’s our job to work with our national organizations and legislators to make sure we’re being heard. This isn’t just affecting farmers but our rural community and those surrounding us. This is the story that needs to be told. This is why we come to Washington, D.C.”
Minnesota’s ASA Directors:
MSGA Executive Team:
-Michael Petefish, MSGA President
-Jamie Beyer, MSGA Vice President
-Bob Worth, MSGA Secretary