The 2019 Farmfest, which wrapped up Thursday at the Gilfillian Estate near Redwood Falls, gave farmers a crack at U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.
Seventh District House of Representative Collin Peterson, who also chairs the House Agriculture Committee, hosted the listening session and sat beside Perdue at Wednesday’s session.
The trade war between the United States and China, and its serious effects on American agriculture brought a lot of people to the listening session.
“It was huge, especially for the listening session, it was standing room only,” said Peterson’s press secretary, Tommy Maddox on Friday morning in Fergus Falls. “I thought it was a great opportunity for the secretary to hear addresses from farmers in the area and just rural America in general.”
Maddox felt the give and take between disgruntled farmers and Perdue was beneficial to both.
When a member of the American Soybean Association pointed out to Perdue it had taken a long time to develop markets in China, the Perdue said he believed China would be “going to buy where they see the best value once the trade war is resolved.
While Perdue and Peterson get along well, Peterson took the opportunity to point out to the Farmfest crowd that he warned people about China years ago and he was against them joining the World Trade Organization (WTO).
According to Maddox, Peterson had said in a recent interview “I warned people years ago that China was an unfair trading partner and that is why I was against them joining.”
Maddox said Peterson has been candid with constituents about what he expects to come out of the trade war with China.
“He has told them ‘Don’t expect a big game-changer or anything great to come out of this. It might be a little better but you’re not going to see any revolutionary change come out of these trade deals,’” Maddox said.
Maddox also pointed out that while Peterson is against the tariff and the trade war, as chairman of the House Agriculture Committee he is spending a large amount of his time implementing the $867 billion farm bill which President Donald Trump signed Dec. 20, 2018. The bill passed by huge margins in both the U.S. House and Senate.
In addition to serving as press secretary for Peterson, Maddox is press secretary for the House Agriculture Committee.
“The big thing that we’re just focused on in the interim as far as domestic issues is just implementing the farm bill,” Maddox said. “Now that Collin is the chair of the committee, he’s doing more of a subcommittee focus. We have a bunch of new freshmen on the committee and Collin is trying to make sure these new members know their stuff.”
The three-day Farmfest also saw 12 other forums dedicated to the issues of farmers and the farming industry.