Farmers look to Congress, White House as commodity prices remain low

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - American farmers are still looking for light at the end of the tunnel as agriculture commodity prices remain low. Farmers are hoping for more trade and federal protection.

Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) says aggressive trade policies can help raise agricultural commodity prices.

“I definitely think Americans should be concerned,” said John Newton, director of market intelligence at the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Newton says commodity prices and farm incomes have been in decline for years.

“Across rural America, farmers have less money in their pocket to spend on Main Street,” said Newton.

So he and farmers across the country are hoping Congress, and the new administration, will step up to the plate. Newton wants more federal safety nets. He says they are crucial when times are tough. He also says being able to sell to as many countries as possible is a must.

“We need to think about new trade agreements we can do, maybe with Japan, Vietnam or even China...ways to get our agricultural commodities overseas to the 96 percent of the population that lives outside of our border,” said Newton.

On Capitol Hill lawmakers are working with the White House to establish these trade agreements. Lawmakers in agriculture-heavy states say they want President Trump to be aggressive with trade policies.

“Get going on these bilateral agreements that the president talks about a lot. But we haven’t seen any direct action,” said Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS).

Roberts says confirming Sonny Perdue as the Secretary of Agriculture will help jump-start the process. He says Perdue understands the need to sell American agricultural products.

“He can be a strong voice for agriculture,” said Roberts. “So if you do get into a situation that you feel things are not happening in Washington as they should, or things are happening that you don’t want, he can weigh in. “

Perdue’s confirmation vote is expected following the Congressional recess.