Senator Tester on the future of Montana agriculture

by ABC Fox Montana, Ricky Blackburn

Senator Jon Tester spent the morning grilling agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue all in an effort, he says, to stand up for Montana’s number one industry.

Secretary Perdue was brought to the senate agriculture appropriations committee to answer questions about President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Trans Pacific Partnership.

Tester says the President’s actions undermine NAFTA and could bring on a trade war with China.
He’s concerned the latest round of tariff talks will drive down prices for Montana’s farmers and ranchers.

“China’s a bad actor, but if you put me and my neighbors out of business in the process we’ve got a major problem here,” Tester said. “So, I know it’s to get a better deal, but in the meantime if those prices go to hell, we’re done.”

The senator added his frustration about proposed cuts to crop insurance saying it’s a lifeblood and a safety net for all of Montana’s farmers and it’s unacceptable to even be thinking about it.

This topic even spilled over into a Facebook live town hall Senator Tester hosted today.

The Senator wanted to cover tariffs, privacy, and the V-A, but as he opened questions up to the public, Montana trade agreements involving Montana agriculture soon took over.

In fact, the senator spoke on trade agreements involving Montana agriculture for about a third of the town hall.

He explained how Montana is an export state, and agriculture is our number one export, he says we need to be expanding our exports, not shrink them. Now we aren’t even capable of making trade agreements like we used to.

“You have to be at the table, if not at least beyond the table and we aren’t at the table, we removed ourselves for those trade agreements,” Said Tester.

The town hall did have numerous other topics besides just trade agreements in relationship to Montana’s agriculture. If you do want to watch the full town hall, here is the link.