Randy Fortenbery, an agriculture economics professor, delivered his economic forecast Wednesday at the Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Farm Forum. He spoke at length about the troubling overall picture of the forces grinding against what has been a robust US economy.
First of all, Washington farmers can expect a tougher year covering expenses even if political leaders finalize trade agreements with the countries that import apples, beef and wheat from the Evergreen State.
“I think commodity prices, except for sorghum, are going to be a little bit better than last year. But we are talking dimes not dollars,” Fortenbery said. “I don’t think the price increase will offset the cost increases.”
He openly contradicted president Trump, who last year said trade wars are good and easy to win. “The biggest issue … is making some assumptions about the trade environment. It really needs to get stabilized,” Fortenbery said. “I don’t care whether it’s big tariffs or no tariffs. People can adjust to tariffs if they know they are there permanently.
“We have, I’m going to argue, probably one of the most aggressive trade realignment programs since maybe the 1920s,” he said. “What I mean by that is we are addressing every one of our trading partners simultaneously. We haven’t done that in decades.”