Our IL Corn membership survey told us that trade and export issues are on the top of your mind. That’s not surprising to us, given that over half the Illinois corn crop leaves the state bound for markets beyond the Land of Lincoln. You know that, and we know that, too. That’s why issues related to accessing export markets are top of mind for us, too. Along those lines, here’s a timely update on issues related to exporting corn, ethanol, and DDGS with the help of our partners at the U.S. Grains Council.
China: Presidents Trump and Xi reached a deal at their meeting late Saturday, details of which are still being developed. We are working here and in China to gain information about this new approach and encourage positive movement for the products we represent. We are encouraged by the leadership of U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Bob Lighthizer in the negotiations to come.
NAFTA: President Trump indicated late Saturday that he would seek to withdraw the United States from NAFTA. We have believed for some time this could be an approach to incentivize passage of the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which the parties signed on Friday. While there are no further details available at this time, we are preparing for this action at any time. We remain supportive of keeping NAFTA in place until USMCA is in force.
Farm bill: our status related to budget management in light of a still-pending farm bill has not changed, though we are watching the process closely to determine what, if any, adjustments we need to make in our operations. As you have encouraged, we are not slowing programs or outreach at this time, but we are mindful that the new year without a new farm bill will mean lost access to both FMD and MAP funds. We are holding on to a ray of hope that the farm bill could be passed yet in the lame duck session. Our friends at NCGA, NSP, and NBGA are obviously on top of this.