Three Indiana farmers went to the White House last week to share their thoughts on trade and on the farm economy. Kendell Culp, a soybean grower from Jasper County, along with Ceres Solutions CEO Jeff Troike, and Mike McCloskey of Fair Oaks Dairy gathered with a small group of farmers from across the country for a meeting with VP Pence, Sec of Ag Perdue, and President Trump. “It was a privilege to represent our Ceres Solutions members and our State at such a meeting,” saidTroike. “It was truly an honor… and certainly unexpected when President Trump dropped in to also affirm our efforts to develop effective strategies to benefit producers. I was pleased to have the opportunity, and it was a trip I will never forget.”
Culp said it was a session with the top administration officials listening to what the farmers had to say, “I think they were wanting to take the temperature of farmers out in the countryside to see how much patience we had and what our feelings were about the tariffs.”
Culp said the farmers in the group expressed support for the President’s trade policy. They also made it clear, in the end, they expected results and that their patience could not last much longer. “I told them we have a big crop in Indiana and across the Midwest and right now I think farmers are very understanding of what the President is trying to do,” he stated. “Yet, once we get our bins full and there is no market for our crop and the price outlook is not good and bankers want their loans repaid, I think the attitudes are going to moderate.”
Vice President Pence led the discussion, and President Trump and Secretary Perdue outlined their long range strategy on trade for the farmers. “They said concluding NAFTA was their first priority, then working on a new bi-lateral deal with Japan and then the EU,” said Culp. He said the administration felt that, by that time, China would be willing to come to the table. The First Vice President of Indiana Farm Bureau added that he believes resolution of the China trade war will take a long time.
Culp stressed to the group that U.S. agriculture cannot stand a recurrence of the 1980s when the Russian grain embargo caused a decade long downturn in the farm economy, “We lost a whole generation of farmers back then. I don’t want to see that happen again.”