Manifolds, Manolos, and Manure
It’s me, Bona Heinsohn. I think you’ve might have forgotten about me amid politics, political posturing, and campaign fundraising.
Let me remind you. My farmer is a third-generation family famer who raises corn, soybean, wheat, and alfalfa in northern Illinois. Nearly half of our acres are certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. We also have a medium-sized registered Holstein dairy herd complete with our blue-eyed girl’s winter show calf named “Lickey”. For several years, our milk went to Dean Foods in Huntley but more recently we market it through a farmer-owned co-operative, Dairy Farmers of American based in Michigan. Our soybeans go overseas to China and Japan and our organic certified corn is used as chicken feed. We feed our alfalfa to our cattle.
Our small family boosts a blue-eyed girl who loves horses, her trumpet, playing third base in softball, and school. We also have a big-little boy with no official eye color who loves farming, real tools (not those plastic ones in the toy section), tractors, and his extra-large cat named “Xanadau”. These two, affectionately known as “children of the corn” are our future. Our fourth generation. We want nothing more than for them to follow their dad and grandpa around asking if they’re old enough to milk a cow, drive a tractor, farm. They’re our legacy.
As family farmers we rely heavily on trade and access to international markets. And Congressman, let’s be frank. This is where you come in. In 1994, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) reduced trade barriers between the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is in a lot of ways an updated version of NAFTA but is expected to increase U.S. agricultural exports by two billion. This agreement needs to be ratified by the United States and Canada. Mexico has already ratified the agreement but will need to ratify the recent changes. Canada is expected to ratify the agreement in parallel to the United States. Ratify the agreement. Help farmers. Help automobile manufacturers. Help the economy.
Speaking of trade, rumor is that there’s a tentative agreement with China. Farmers need China as a trading partner. The phase one deal calls for China to purchase $50 billion in agricultural products and $200 billion in U.S. goods and services over a two-year period. Under this agreement, snapback tariffs will not go into effect.
Congressman, what we need most is an advocate for farmers. Someone who is willing to learn more about how food is grown and raised. Someone who is willing to stand up and push for agreements, legislation, and policy beneficial to Illinois farmers.
In the New Year, can you, Congressman be our advocate?