BRIGHTON, Colo. (CBS4)– Farmers across Colorado are worried about the escalating trade war that’s already affecting their bottom line. A group of concerned farmers met with Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat, at Sakata Farm in Brighton.
Agriculture is the second-largest industry in Colorado, generating $40 billion a year.
Commodity prices are plummeting with corn running $8 a bushel a few years ago to $4 a bushel today. While most may not pay more for produce at the store, the impact on the economy will be felt statewide.
“Your groups here and in Washington are the key, the front line,” said Bennet, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee.
At his urging, the biggest names in Colorado agriculture gathered in one room on Friday. Bennet is worked a trade war on top of low commodity prices and a drought, will take a devastating toll on Colorado’s agriculure industry.
“This isn’t a game, this is serious. This is the difference between somebody being able to pass their farm or their ranch off onto their child or not being able to do it,” said Bennet.
“We’re below break even already, so that impact is extremely difficult on our commodity producers,” said Colo. Agriculture Commissioner Don Brown.
Brown says the value of corn and wheat has dropped 20 percent since the tariffs took effect. Canada and Mexico are the top two importers of Colorado agriculture.
“All of our growth in agriculture in Colorado is going to come from trade,” said Bennet.
“It’s really trickled down and I sense it from every part of the state,” said Terry Fankhauser, the head of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association.
He says ranchers are also feeling the impact.
“Coloradans and people in this country eat all they can eat and maybe more than what they should, in many cases. And our food is fairly cost-effective. Our growth is outside of the U.S. border so we’re very concerned,” said Fankhauser. “We have producers, that if we can’t resolve these issues, literally, we’ll go out of business.”
Bennet also discussed the farm bill which is headed for a conference committee after the House and Senate passed different versions. The bill impacts things like crop insurance, especially important in light of this year’s hail storms and drought. It also regulates the food stamp program.