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Farm Bureau urges quick action on trade deals

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The Illinois Farm Bureau (IFB) isn’t happy with recent trade moves by President Donald Trump, and they hope there’s a quick move to get new agreements in place.

One of the first executive orders Trump signed was to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

“Illinois agriculture depends on free trade agreements to sell our products,” IFB President Rich Guebert said. “Currently, 46 percent of Illinois exports go to Trans-Pacific countries. The TPP was expected to increase Illinois’ cash receipts and net exports by $281.1 million and $127.4 million per year, respectively.”

Trump said Thursday in Philadelphia at the Republican Congressional Retreat that America can get better deals one-on-one.

“They won’t be a whole big mash pot,” he said. “They’ll be one-on-one deals, and if that particular country doesn’t treat us fairly, we send them a notice of termination.”

Guebert acknowledged greater opportunities in bilateral trade deals.

“It probably gives you different opportunities as you move forward, whether it would be specifically with meats or with corn or with soybeans or with distillers’ grains.”

But Guebert said those deals need to happen soon, as farmers are in the stage of marketing crops and preparing for the next planting season.

“Get them resolved sooner than later,” Guebert said.

He said it should not be a “two or a four-year process in these negotiations. I don’t think Illinois agriculture or the Illinois farm economy can wait that long.”

Trump said Thursday in Philadelphia he’s working on it.

“This is going to be so much better and we’re already on it,” he said. “I would like to have my Commerce Secretary Wilbur (Ross) approved.”

In the meantime, Trump said he may have to negotiate some trade deals himself.

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