WASHINGTON, D.C. — Ohio farmers were struggling prior to this year’s extremely wet weather, but the federal government is considering programs to help this year.
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said he is working with colleagues to get some assistance for farmers, especially those in Ohio.
“Farmers have been hurting, even before this year’s wet weather, for three reasons,” Portman said.
Those reasons include low prices for corn and soybeans, which are among Ohio’s largest crops, as well as increased global competition and a decrease in global demand.
When asked, Portman agreed the recent trade tariff war with China has also not helped matters.
“Until this year, China was two-thirds of our soybean market,” Portman said.
However, the senator is also hopeful there can be some relief coming for farmers in the near future, if Congress can be persuaded to act.
Congress should be considering whether to pass the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) trade deal soon, which, if approved, would replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
“The USMCA is popular with farmers because it should increase the market for (agricultural) exports to Mexico and Canada,” Portman said.
He added those are already two of the biggest markets for corn and soybeans, and while it likely won’t increase demand in those areas, it should help other agricultural sectors.
Portman said he hopes Congress approves that agreement prior to its August recess, and he intends to take to the Senate floor next week to urge it to do so.
He added he is also hopeful the federal government will help with this year’s wet growing season, which resulted in far less corn and soybeans planted than normal.
Portman said a program is being considered for aid that would help farmers get through this year, as well as another one that would provide assistance for those wanting to plant cover crops this year.
In addition, he is hoping a declaration of emergency will be made, which could provide additional financial assistance.
“We had more rain this spring and summer than in recordable history,” Portman said. “Farmers are having a tough time right now.”