Peterson, Roberts concerned about farmers’ financial situation
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., both said Thursday that they are increasingly worried about farmers’ financial situations.
“I have been saying for a year people are nervous,” Peterson said when asked about a Wall Street Journal article today pointing out that farm bankruptcies are up.
But Peterson said Congress’s ability to help farmers is limited because raising crop target prices 10 percent would cost $3 billion per year.
A “handful” of farmers won’t be able to get financing for this production year, Peterson said, explaining that he is more worried about next year if there is another year of mediocre crops.
Also reacting to the Wall Street Journal story, Roberts said that concern about farmers’ finances “has been building up for a month.”
The farm bill can help farmers “but we need price recovery,” Roberts said.
There have been “mental health” problems among farmers in Kansas recently, Roberts said. While this cannot be directly attributed to low prices, he said, “to a family that loses somebody, that is a full-blown crisis.”
“We are in a tough spot,” Roberts said, declaring that farmers do not need any increased tariffs on Chinese products and that he hopes the Trump administration makes progress in its trade negotiations with China.
Farmers have complained that Trump’s tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum have resulted in retaliatory tariffs that have reduced their sales.