Chief executives of the three Farm Credit Banks and the Farm Credit Council recently called on Congress and the Trump administration to reopen the government so that farmers can get their financial affairs in order before spring planting. As the manager of a business that provides fertilizer, chemical and seed to farmers and ranchers I couldn’t agree more.
As always, farmers and ranchers are doing a great job despite the fact agriculture income has been steadily declining for more than four years, with 2018 set to bring the lowest average income since the USDA began releasing the Farm Income Forecast in 2010. All categories of farm businesses are expected to see declines with dairy farm businesses expected to see the largest decline.
Ongoing trade disputes are taking a toll, as farmers and ranchers hold out hope for success down the line. In the case of President Carter, history shows the best intentions can fall short.
The trade dispute is taking its toll, China typically buys 60 percent of U.S. soybeans and these sales are down overwhelmingly. The only current winner are U.S. agriculture competitors in Brazil. Add the increase cost of farm and ranch supplies and 2019 could be a tough year. Market access needs to improve, and the expenses need to decrease.
Add to these obstacles a government shutdown. Now in its fifth week, the federal government shutdown affects more than the government employees going without pay. Farmers and ranchers depend on the services the U.S. Department of Agriculture provides to make important operating decisions that will impact their annual household income. Without employees administering these important programs, farmers and ranchers will be left in the dark and cut short in valuable planning and marketing decisions.
We need our members of Congress to vote to bring this federal government shutdown to a close. Rural America should not be treated as a pawn in the fight between our legislative and executive branches of government over philosophical differences. As vice president of the Rural & Agricultural Council of America, I strongly urge our Montana senators and congressman to make the right choice and vote to end the government shutdown.