Guebert discusses trade with vice president

Pence promises to take message back to Trump.

Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert Jr., right, was among a small group of farmers and other businessmen who had a brief, private meeting with Vice President Mike Pence, second from left, during a fundraiser held in O’Fallon on Thursday. (Illinois Farm Bureau file photo)

By Deana Stroisch

Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert Jr. told Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday he was concerned a trade war would hurt Illinois farmers – especially young farmers.

Guebert and Monroe County farmer George Obernagel, along with other businessmen, had a brief, private meeting with Pence during a fundraiser held in O’Fallon for U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphsyboro. Other businessmen in the room represented the coal, construction and auto industries.

Guebert said he encouraged Pence to end the trade disputes “sooner than later.” He pointed to repeated years of economic hardship in agriculture and explained how some members will have a difficult time securing financing.

“Combines are probably 60 days away from getting in the field,” Guebert said. “It looks like we’re going to have a really good crop. That’s going to impact the prices, just as the tariffs have had a tremendous impact – not only on corn, wheat and beans but also on hogs and cattle. I stressed we need to get to the table, get the negotiations done, get these trade agreements sealed … so agriculture can get back on its feet and do what it does best: Provide food for the world.”

Guebert said Pence told the group the administration was about two to three weeks from reaching an agreement with Mexico. They also hoped to get something resolved with the European Union, Guebert said.

After the meeting ended, Guebert took a photo with the vice president. Guebert thanked him for the chance to discuss trade.

“He said, ‘Rich, I got it. I’ll share it with the president this evening when I get back to D.C.’”

“You can’t ask for much more,” Guebert said. “I really appreciated the opportunity to represent Illinois farmers and Farm Bureau members with the vice president,” Guebert said. “He understands, and hopefully, he carried the message back to the president. Will it have any impact? I can only hope.”