PLAIN CITY—Plain City farmer and Trump Agricultural Advisory Committee member, Fred Yoder, updated almost 100 farmers on U.S. trade and Agricultural issues on March 21 at the Farmers’ Breakfast in Plain City.
In March, President Trump signed an executive order to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from all foreign countries. This could lead to future tariffs with China, predicted Yoder, who spoke at the 2018 Farmers’ Breakfast Series at Der Dutchman. Yoder is a fourth generation farmer, helped pick the last U.S. Ag secretary and is former chair of North American Climate Smart Agriculture.
“The one thing we need to worry about here in Ohio is the possible tariff on the import of soybeans in China,” Yoder said. “They’re our biggest export customer and we send a lot of beans to China.”
He explained that China has already put a tariff on grain sorghum. He added, “We know China’s operation and they’re undoubtedly going to put more tariffs or stops to some imports that they have.”
He also focused on the negotiation of the new North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) deal and Trump’s promise to not hurt agriculture. “In the beginning, the one thing we asked the president to do was do no harm to agriculture,” Yoder said. “And he promised us that.”
According to Yoder, the White House’s budget proposal released in February “wasn’t that friendly to farmers,” as it proposed to cut funds for crop insurance. He added that the Trump Administration is also suggesting to cut the Supplement Nutrition Aid Program (SNAP) by 20 percent and reduce funds for conservation programs.
“One of the things that is going to make agriculture thrive and survive is exports. We have the ability to produce like nobody else in the world,” said Yoder, emphasizing that the United States needs trade.
Yoder added that Washington is also negotiating the South Korea Free Trade Agreement, which is very important to agriculture, according to Yoder. He emphasized the White House’s release that Trump plans to meet with Kim Jong Un, North Korean leader.
Yoder also spoke about the 2018 Farm Bill, explaining that he met with Chairman Mike Conaway of the House Committee on Agriculture. Yoder said that Chairman Conaway would like to introduce a farm bill before Memorial Day this year, setting the tone for the Senate.
“It’s really important that we take a look at the dairy situation and figure out a way that they can thrive,” said Yoder, adding dairy farmers have an abundance of dairy products.
During negotiations at the 2018 Commodity Classic, Yoder said that Washington proposed to farmers the option to sell E15 all year round in exchange for capping the price of Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs).
“Luckily we had three independent studies done right away to say that this is a no-go,” said Yoder.
A RIN is a serial number meant to track batches of biofuel production, use and trading. The United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) implemented RINs in accordance with the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.
The Commodity Classic is a trade show for top agriculture companies and farmers to meet and discuss agricultural issues. E15 if a high octane fuel consisting of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline.
“Even the secretary did not understand why we were so upset about capping the price of RINs, when it had nothing to do with supply and demand,” Yoder said. “It has everything to do with supply in demand.”
“To solve the price of RINs, to make the price of RINs go lower, just by making E15 available year round — you’ll cut the RIN price in half just because you’re flooding the market with extra ethanol that’s going to be blended,” said Yoder. “That’s the fix that we need.”
The Ohio State University Extension and the Madison County Farm Bureau sponsored this event.
Amanda Rockhold is a staff writer for Rural Life Today. She can be reached at 740-852-1616, ext. 1617.