Trade issues hot topic at Board of Directors meeting

As trade issues across the country continue to heat up, Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation members are ready to take action. Farm Bureau’s Board of Directors stated these intentions clearly at last week’s board meeting in Stoneville.

Sharkey County Board President Josh Miller took the floor during a discussion period of the meeting to present a letter for the board to consider.

“With recent tariffs put in place by China, the Sharkey County Board would like to ask for President, Mike McCormick, Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation leadership, and staff to be allowed to begin talks with American Farm Bureau Federation, other national agricultural organizations, and our National Congressional Delegation for possible remedies,” the letter, written by Miller, stated.

The letter continued by suggesting the Federation push for all payments from the $12 billion farm aid, announced by the Trump Administration in July, be distributed by March 1, 2019 to offset the tariffs imposed by China.

“We would like Mississippi to lead conversations with American Farm Bureau and other national agricultural organizations,” Miller said. “If we are one of the first states to begin the talks, hopefully, we will have a seat at the table.”

Federation President Mike McCormick acknowledged the board’s concerns about the tariff issues and disbursement of aid funds before giving a brief update.

“I am on the American Farm Bureau trade advisory committee,” McCormick said. “We’ve been having weekly telephone calls regarding trade issues. There are heavy, ongoing discussions between the Trump Administration and the American Farm Bureau executive team. They are working hard to fix the trade issues with other counties, while trying to protect our farmers.”

Although it is imperative Farm Bureau members pay attention to the conversations happening with China, McCormick advised state board members to watch Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, as well.

“USDA Undersecretary Ted McKinney is concerned about the United States leaving the TPP and not having ongoing negotiations with Japan,” McCormick said. “If we don’t convince Japan to have a bilateral agreement with us, we’re probably going to start feeling the effects of that as much as we are with the Chinese tariffs.”

McCormick said American Farm Bureau staff believes the United States is several weeks away from having an agreement with Mexico.

After much discussion, the board approved Miller’s letter in an effort to give extra support to McCormick and Federation staff in trade negotiations moving forward.

In other business:

  • Federation CFO Billy Davis demonstrated the organization’s new accounting system and expense tracker to the board.
  • Federation General Counsel Kent Bloodworth presented a plan to renovate the organization’s building and parking lot. The board voted to proceed with parking lot lighting renovations this fiscal year and building renovations next fiscal year.
  • Communications Coordinator Jon Kalahar announced Alex Lowery as the Federation’s new Print Media Specialist.