Profitability remains top of mind for farmers

Richard Guebert Jr.

What will it take to improve commodity prices?

Why hasn’t the China phase one deal helped prices?

What if we have a large crop in 2020?

These were some of the questions asked of Vice President Brian Duncan and me when we drove around the state to meet with county Farm Bureau presidents last month.

Profitability is on farmers’ minds ... even before the coronavirus was declared a pandemic!

Improving the economic well-being of agriculture is in our mission statement. It is at the core of almost everything we do.

Even during this national emergency, we continue to work on behalf of our members.

Here are some of the areas IFB is addressing in 2020:

• In response to COVID-19, advocate for our ag and food system to continue to operate to provide food for consumers.

• Regain lost ag export demand, build new markets, oppose tariff escalation and urge a fair resolution of the China trade war.

• Work to modernize NASS survey methods and improve the accuracy of USDA reports.

• Protect farmers’ ability to raise livestock and care for the environment by maintaining the Livestock Management Facilities Act (LMFA).

• Support state tax policies that build a positive business climate. Support the ag sales tax incentives, the Farmland Assessment Law and work to defeat the Progressive Income Tax ballot initiative.

• Promote biofuels by defending the integrity of the Renewable Fuel Standard, advocating for high-octane, low-carbon fuels and defeating HB 1407 which would limit ethanol expansion in Illinois.

• Finalize a WOTUS rule that does not punish farmers.

• Work for affordable rural broadband access.

• Maintain a balanced system for antibiotic usage in Illinois.

• Support federal investment in modern waterway infrastructure on the Illinois and Mississippi rivers.

We will continue to work closely with the American Farm Bureau Federation on all national issues.

None of us knows the ultimate impact the coronavirus will have on the global and U.S. economies.

We know it has impacted supply chains.

U.S. ag commodities sit on the docks at ports in China because of a lack of workers to move the products.

In places around the world, including the U.S., conventions, meetings and travel plans are being canceled.

We don’t know how long it will take for normal activities to resume in the U.S. and around the world.

As farmers, we prefer to get our income from the marketplace. But, if that fails to happen, Farm Bureau policy leaves the door open to seek a third Market Facilitation Payment.

Farmers are still feeling the impact of the tariffs imposed in 2018.

I wish I had a crystal ball to see the next nine months. Or better yet, a magic wand to rebuild demand. But since I don’t, at Farm Bureau, we will do what we’ve always done ... work each day to “improve the economic well-being of agriculture and enrich the quality of farm family life.”

Richard Guebert Jr. of Ellis Grove serves as Illinois Farm Bureau president.