Guebert reiterates trade concerns during White House meeting

IFB president among three state Farm Bureau presidents to speak directly with President Trump and Vice President Pence about ongoing trade war.

Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert Jr., center, briefs IFB Leaders to Washington participants about his meeting with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. (Photo by Deana Stroisch)

By Deana Stroisch

Three state Farm Bureau presidents, including Illinois’ Richard Guebert Jr., repeated their concerns Wednesday about trade disputes and tariffs directly to President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

The meeting, held at the White House at the request of the administration, also included U.S. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue, Ambassador Gregg Doud, who serves as chief agricultural negotiator in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and other high-ranking officials. Seven farmers attended.

Trump and Pence couldn’t stay long, Guebert said, but they thanked the group for agriculture’s support. The rest of the meeting lasted about an hour.

Guebert, along with Texas Farm Bureau President Russell Boeing and Scott VanderWal, American Farm Bureau Federation vice president and South Dakota Farm Bureau president, explained the need for open markets.

After the meeting, Guebert said he shared the impact of tariffs on Illinois’ young farmers.

“I worry about our young famers,” Guebert said. “The older generation usually doesn’t have as much debt or face as many challenges as younger farmers.”

Guebert said he expressed concerns about components of the Market Facilitation Program, which will pay pork producers $8 a head for animals in their possession Aug. 1. He shared the experience of an Illinois pork producer who sold his hogs at the end of July and is ineligible for aid.

The group also encouraged the administration to negotiate an agreement with Canada, finalize the deal with the European Union and get a bilateral deal inked with Japan.

“I did make the comment that I worry about our beef producers not being able to be competitive in the Japanese market in 2019 because we walked away from the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” Guebert said.

Related: Illinois legislators weigh in on farm bill during conference committee meeting. Read more here.

He added he was thankful for the invitation and the chance to share concerns of Illinois farmers directly with the administration.

“What an experience,” he said.

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