A day after a televised 12th Congressional District debate and a few days before President Donald Trump visits, U.S. Rep. Mike Bost participated in a town hall on farming issues with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue on Wednesday.
This is yet another visit from a high level official for Bost who faces a tough re-election challenge from St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly, the Democratic nominee. Bost and Kelly, along with Green Party candidate Randy Auxier participated in a televised debate on Tuesday in Carbondale.
Perdue complimented Bost and his efforts in Washington.
“He can bring the perspective of working folks in Illinois to D.C. and we need that very much so … it’s good to have him in there fighting for your interests,” Perdue said.
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“I hear from him fairly frequently … He’s bothering me, but he’s on top of it,” Perdue added, a comment that received laughs from the packed room inside of the Eckert’s restaurant.
The visit comes with less than two weeks to go before the election.
Bost held a fundraiser with U.S. Speaker Paul Ryan on Tuesday, and is scheduled to have a rally in Murphysboro on Saturday with Trump.
Perdue discussed the ongoing negotiation of the farm bill as well as the trade mitigation package for farmers who have been affected by foreign tariffs on agricultural products. He also added that there is a renewed trade deal between the United States, Canada and Mexico.
“Farmers get what the president’s motive is,” Perdue said. “They know China has not been playing by the rules. Farmers, they play by the rules. The law of the land (is) you better play by rules or you don’t produce a crop.”
For Bost, the gathering was an opportunity to talk in front of a key constituency for him.
“We’re right here in the middle of farm country. My district has so much agriculture, and remember we have the steel that the tariffs were vitally in important to get those 800 jobs back,” Bost said. “But today’s meeting, having the secretary here, explaining where we’re at, where the administration is with negotiating — one thing that’s been positive even during this election is my farmers understand I’m listening to them (and) so is the secretary ... We know the importance … When we’re starting to see those trade deals starting to come together is fantastic.”