Trade is a huge deal for agriculture – particularly Illinois agriculture – but I can’t help but feel like we’ve been talking trade, trade, and more trade for more than a year!

First, we constantly lobbied Congress to help us get the Trans Pacific Partnership passed.  Then, President Trump pulled us out of that potential trade agreement and even considered suspending the North American Free Trade Agreement, which would be a huge loss for ag.

Now, it seems IL Corn is spending a lot of time talking about trade and reminding the folks in power why it’s so important for farmers.  In case you’ve got questions, here’s a few reminders:

  • Every $1 billion in agricultural export revenue supports 8,000 jobs, according to USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS)
  • $340 Billion in economic output produced by U.S. ag exports in 2014,  including $150 billion in export value and an additional $190 billion in other economic activity.
  • 1.1 Million Jobs supported by U.S. agricultural exports, including 800,000 in the non-farm sector (or 73% of the total employment effect), which are required to assemble, process and distribute agricultural products for export.
  • U.S. ag exports are projected to account for one-third of total farm sector gross earnings in 2017, according to the Congressional Research Service.
  • 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside the United States, while we’re producing a significant amount of the world’s food right here.

For me, maybe the most important reason why America needs to prioritize agricultural trade is that the food is here, and the hungry people are in other countries.  For purely humanitarian purposes, we got to be open to ag trade – we’ve got to make it easier – in order to get the food from where it’s grown to where people need it.

Do you have questions about trade?  I’d love to start a conversation with you in the comments!

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director


Every once in a while, I check in on some of the most frequently asked questions about farmers on Google.  I’m always surprised.

While the day-to-day tasks of my job always lead me to believe that people are interested in GMO’s, organic food production, trade, and other important topics, turns out that people really care about how much money farmers are making.

You might start out by reading a couple of these.  They are going to help you understand an average Illinois farmer’s balance sheet.

But to answer the overall question of farmers, how much money they make, and if their cries about profitability have any weight, check out this graph:

This graph is basically showing us that after adjusting for inflation, farmers are making considerably less money than they used to make.  Look at the depression years!  Farmers are making less net profit right now than they were making in the 1920s and 1930s.

It’s definitely an eye opener.

As for the immediate question, will farmers be going broke in 2017?  I think the answer is no.  We will not see farmers declaring bankruptcy in droves this year.  The thing about farmers is that they are good at saving for a rainy day, so most can weather this downturn.

But what’s helping them withstand this low price period is good farm programs, good crop insurance, and good marketing opportunities.  What we can’t do is forsake programs to help farmers weather bad years and bad prices because we perceive them getting rich.

Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director