Farmers look past uncertainty toward the future at QC Farm Show

ROCK ISLAND, Illinois -- Attendance was strong at the Quad Cities Farm Show in Rock Island, vendors said, despite uncertainty weighing on farmers' minds.

More than 200 agricultural companies are represented at the 28th annual farm equipment show at the QCCA Expo Center in Rock Island, according to organizers. Vendors say there has been a lot of interest from farmers browsing the equipment and products on display, even as they expressed concerns about current economic conditions.

"There's definitely uncertainty, but there has always been uncertainty in ag," said Mike Brokaw, Vice President of Blackhawk Bank & Trust, one of the exhibitors.

Farmers are worried about grain prices and tariff issues in the ongoing trade war with China, he said.

"The last three to four years since the high prices of 2012 have been stressful for farmers," he said. "Everyone is trying to hold things together."

Add to that the current government shutdown, in its 30th day Monday, some farmers say they are concerned it goes on for much longer.

Offices of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Farm Service Agency have been closed as part of the shutdown, affecting those waiting on loans to be serviced or approved.

"Most people have trouble with working capital. That's your short term type money. That seems to be disappearing from a lot of farmers fast. It's a big concern for all of us," Brokaw told WQAD News 8.

"Most farmers pretty well take it in stride. They are frustrated. But they find a ways to work around it. Farming, it's a way of life and people are gonna figure out a way to stay in it if they at all possibly can," he said.

Farmers hit by the tariff dispute originally had until January 15 to apply for relief but FSA offices closed amid the shutdown. The agency subsequently made January 17, 18 and 22 available for farm loan activities on a limited staff availability basis. The deadline to apply will be extended by the number of days the FSA is closed due to the shutdown.

In Eastern Iowa, agencies in Dewitt, Maquoketa, Mt Pleaseant and Tipton will be open Tuesday. In Illinois, offices in Cambridge, Morrison, Monmouth, Galesburg and Ottawa will be open. Check the FSA website for a full list of service centers operating during the limited availability.

The farm show wraps up Tuesday.

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