Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Pence, Perdue address farmers' fears in Ag Day speeches

Pence speaks on Ag Day (DTN photo by Greg Horstmeier)
Yesterday's speeches by Vice President Mike Pence and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in honor of National Agriculture Day celebrated farmers as usual, but both addressed major difficulties that farmers are having with the administration and Congress.

Perdue, speaking at the National Press Club, acknowledged that grain companies and farmer co-ops are waiting (probably in vain, it seems) for a tax change in the upcoming omnibus bill to fix the "grain glitch"--a provision added at the last minute to the tax overhaul bill passed in December that threatens to distort the grain market. 

He also discussed the debate about the Renewable Fuels Standard, which worries corn and soybean farmers who produce crops that are sometimes turned into biofuels. "Perdue said there have been intense discussions about what to do regarding Renewable Identification Numbers [credits that are traded], but no solutions have been reached. Perdue suggested to reporters that President Trump may seek a solution through Congress rather than administrative actions," Chris Clayton and Jerry Hagstrom report for DTN/The Progressive Farmer. "Perdue noted RIN prices have fallen more than 60 percent since last fall, and RIN prices would fall further if EPA would approve year-round 15 percent ethanol blends." Perdue also addressed farmers' worries that Trump's tariffs will spark a trade war that could hurt agriculture.

"Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, said in a brief interview during the Ag Day events that he hopes there is still time to sway the president not to impose new tariffs on China," DTN reports. "Duvall said he hoped Perdue and White House agricultural adviser Ray Starling, as well as the U.S. Trade Representative's Office, are all talking to the president about reconsidering his stance."

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