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Farm Bureau members told trade war hurting everyone

By Staff, 10/8/19 10:45 AM

PRESCOTT – Members of the Farm Bureau were told Trump’s tariffs on China are devastating Arkansas farmers and ranchers. They were told this Monday at the annual membership meeting of the Farm Bureau at the Potlatch Building.

Rich Hillman, candidate for Farm Bureau president, said Trump’s trade war with chins is crippling agriculture in Arkansas and is hurting everyone. However, he gave the members some good news saying a trade deal has been reached with Japan with that nation’s 30 percent tariffs on American beef being rolled back, adding this is also good for Arkansas ranchers.

He said the North American Free Trade Act, approved more than 20 years ago, has been replaced with a new agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico and is in the House waiting to be voted on. Once it passes, Hillman said, it will be a positive move for Arkansas.

The state, he continued, has a problem with black vultures. He told the packed house these vultures can take down a calf and it’s a problem. Other states, he said, have permits allowing them to be killed.

Black vultures, though, aren’t the only problem facing farmers and ranchers in the state. Hillman said feral hogs are a terrible problem, pointing out “Arkansas Business” magazine ran an article on feral hogs telling how they are devastating agriculture. Hillman said the Farm Bureau has an action committee working on this and the need to control feral hogs, but he pointed out the article stated 65 percent of feral hogs need to be killed to stay level.

This year, he continued, has posed challenges to agriculture with the heavy rains and floods. He said the river valley was decimated by the floods and many had to replant crops to try and survive this year.

Hillman talked about the importance of the truth in labeling law Arkansas has which requires all meat products to show they are what they claim to be and aren’t some lab-created protein being passed off as meat. This law, he said, is being challenged out of state.

Hillman said he’s running for president of Farm Bureau after serving 11 years under outgoing president Randy Beach, who’s retiring.

Rep. Danny Watson was on hand and said 80-85 percent of the calls he gets are about farming, prices and exemptions that have been in place for a long time being repealed.

Rep. David Fielding was also present and said the state set a $95 million budget for its highway plans, with the money to come from gasoline, diesel, gaming/casino and the registration of hybrid and electric cars. The registration on these vehicles will be $100-$200 a year, with the idea being they also use Arkansas highways and roads.

Fielding said the half-cent sales tax for highways is set to expire in 2023, but voters can cast their ballots to keep it n the books permanently in the next general election.

Bob Cummings acted as master of ceremonies, welcoming everyone to the meeting and reminding them the Farm Bureau presented three scholarships to area seniors last year and had a booth at the Nevada County Fair for the first time.