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Trade uncertainty, low commodity prices continue to weigh on farmers

Importance of agriculture to rural communities also discussed.

Ongoing trade uncertainty coupled with low commodity prices and rising interest rates has created challenging times for agricultural producers across the U.S. and Texas, according to experts at the 2019 Texas Ag Forum in Austin, Texas.

“There’s a layer of uncertainty that’s very real,” said Dr. Pat Westhoff, Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute director at the University of Missouri. “There are more issues with late payments, more borrowing of money other than for operating expenses. It’s not the 1980s, but things are not going in the right direction. Things are not going to come crashing down tomorrow, but it’s not getting any better either.”

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, opened the forum discussing the importance of agriculture on rural communities.

“If you care about rural America, you want farmers and ranchers to perform better in the businesses they support,” Moran said. “I support farmers and ranchers because they determine whether or not my community has a future. Agriculture is one of few places left that sons and daughters work side by side with their moms and dads.”

Meanwhile, demand for meats such as beef continues to climb at a steady clip, according to economists at the forum.

“Overall, global beef trade is up and overall volume is up,” said Erin Borror, U.S. Meat Export Federation economist in Denver. “Beef exports to China are now double the volume imported from the U.S.”

To read more about issues discussed at the forum, go to Ag Forum discusses agricultural policy, trade in 2019 and beyond.

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