Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue talks NAFTA, Farm Bill in Fargo

Mar 9, 2018

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has been spending his day in Fargo.

This morning he toured the Red River Valley Agriculture Research Center on the campus of NDSU, and held a roundtable discussion with commodity groups to discuss the Farm Bill, NAFTA and other issues. He was joined by North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, as well as Congressman Kevin Cramer and Senators John Hoeven and Heidi Heitkamp. Perdue says many producers have been uncertain about the future of NAFTA, but he says he has the President's ear when it comes to trade. He says some of the President's moves that seem confusing turn out in a positive way.

"Farmers are always anxious about trade because trade is on that worldwide balance sheet of supply and demand, and frankly we are anxious about it because it affects prices. And we see where commodity prices are now because of the worldwide supply and demand. So I'm hopeful what the President did with tariffs can bring us to a positive conclusion of NAFTA, and let's move on to the EU and our other allies, and move forward that way."

Perdue says last week's announcements regarding the steel and aluminum tariffs surprised him and had him concerned, but he's optimistic going forward.

He says as far as the Farm Bill is concerned, he believes a strong crop insurance program is vital.

"There's no farmer alive, either in North Dakota or throughout, that would rather not have a good crop at a fair price. That's the safety net that we're trying to establish. We made a lot of progress in 2014 with crop insurance, it's vital, that's something the producer participates in to a large degree, and we need to preserve that going forward. Crop insurance, just like any insurance, never makes anyone whole - if you have a car wreck and total your car, or your house, you are never made whole. Crop insurance never does that either, it just preserves the ability of that producer to be able to do it again."

Left to right - D. Burgum, K. Cramer, S. Perdue, J. Hoeven, Heidi Heitkamp

Perdue says North Dakota's congressional delegation has been in good contact with him regarding their constituents requests for the legislation.

He spent the afternoon having lunch with students pursuing degrees in agriculture and touring the American Crystal Sugar Company's sugar beet processing facility in Moorhead.