In the News

High Plains Journal
Doug Rich

Trade and the farm bill topped the list of concerns for Kansas Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran in their presentations at the 2018 Agricultural Commodity Futures Conference held in Overland Park, Kansas, April 5 and 6.

Kansas State University and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission sponsored this conference.

Trade is the leading issue right now. Roberts said it has been frustrating to see the announcements on tariffs in recent days from the United States and from China. He noted that China is one of the top export markets for agricultural products from this country with over 60 percent of United States soybeans going to China in 2017.

“Drastic measures in trade policy result in harm to our producers in rural America and our entire food chain as well,” Roberts said. “History has shown us that agriculture often bears the brunt when retaliatory measures are taken.”

All of the U.S. agricultural exports that are sold to China are at risk if there is a trade war, according to Roberts.

“I hope this is all just negotiating, but when you are walking from one place to another you don’t need to go through a mine field to get there,” Roberts said.

Moran said Kansas is an export state and has no choice but to engage the world.

“Passing a tax bill that reduces tax rates will mean a lot less if we lose the markets by which we earn the income,” Moran said. “Granting us a reduction in our taxes becomes of less value in the absence of the income to which those taxes apply.”

Withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and suggestions that we might withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement followed by tariffs placed on products from China create more hurdles that U.S. agricultural producers might not be able to survive.

“I know that even the threat of withdrawal from NAFTA and our failure to negotiate an agreement like TPP is costing agriculture billions of dollars,” Moran said. “Withdrawal from NAFTA is not a viable option. The threat of withdrawal is nearly as damaging as an actual withdrawal.”

The current farm bill that is being debated is the seventh that Roberts has worked on in his time as a congressman and a senator from Kansas. Although each one of those farm bills has been unique the overall goals have not changed. These goals are to produce a farm bill that is producer friendly, a bill that provides certainty for producers, a bill that is responsible to taxpayers and one that is done in a timely manner.

Roberts thought it was still possible to get a farm bill done this spring, if not by the end of April then may in early May.

“I want the rest of America to know how important agriculture is to the entire country,” Moran said. “I believe in rural America and I want to do the things that I can do to enhance the chances that rural America is alive in the future.”

“We need to complete the farm bill,” Moran said. “The necessity of us getting our work done is real. The safety net that comes with the farm bill is important and the current farm bill is inadequate in a number of aspects.”

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