Trade Concerns at Farm Show
Demand for Corn, Soybeans Remains Worrisome as Farmers Tour Machinery
By: Chris Clayton, August 27,2019
DECATUR, Ill. (DTN) — While farmers admire the latest agriculture machinery this week, leaders of national commodity groups at the Farm Progress Show are talking about demand and looking for the upside in pending trade deals.
Bill Gordon, vice president of the American Soybean Association and a farmer from Worthington, Minnesota, said of his first day at the show, “You can’t start a conversation in agriculture without talking about China and the tariffs on soybeans and what we’re trying to do to mitigate that and still sell to our No. 1 buyer of soybeans.”
ASA continues to focus on pushing the Trump administration on trade and demand issues, Gordon said. At the same time, ASA continues to send farmer delegations to China to talk to private soybean buyers.
“We still need trade, not aid,” Gordon said. “We appreciate the administration’s help with mitigation payments, but that’s not a long-term solution. We’ve been in this market for 30-plus years, and we built it from the ground up. We’re not going to stop and let the government get in the way of trade in our mindset.”
ASKED FOR MEETING ON WAIVERS
On small-refinery waivers, ASA and the National Biodiesel Board have reached out to President Donald Trump, asking for a meeting to discuss how the waivers have affected biodiesel demand.
“Percentage-wise, biodiesel has taken a larger hit on the volume of our product,” Gordon said. “Those are just gallons — demand. When you have a trade war and trade barriers in place, that demand needs to be picked up domestically.”
Gordon credited Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue for his efforts to try swaying the president and EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to change direction on the small-refinery exemptions.
“He really has been a voice for agriculture in that office,” Gordon said. “He just can’t seem to get it across the finish line that it’s important to farmers.”
Perdue will attend the show on Wednesday and hold an event with farm broadcasters as well as hold a roundtable discussion in Decatur.
Kevin Ross, vice president of the National Corn Growers Association, who farms near Minden, Iowa, spoke at an ethanol plant in Council Bluffs, Iowa, back in June and brought the small-refinery exemptions to Trump’s attention.
Ross said it’s disappointing the Environmental Protection Agency still granted 31 small-refinery waivers this month that would total 1.4 billion gallons in potentially lost ethanol demand.
“We need to get some immediate demand in this ethanol market,” Ross said. “A lot of plants are struggling, or have shut down, and if we don’t find some ways to bolster that demand soon, this is going to be a big problem for a lot of farmers markets that they are normally going to.”