For farmers, planting decisions are always tough. Wehave toworry about weather, weeds,pests, soil conditions, crop disease, equipment, government policy,marketsetc.Our choices can make the difference between success and failure at harvest time.

The last thing we need is additional uncertainty. Yet thats what we haveright policy, following last weeks congressional elections and Americas ongoing trade war with China.

Willa Democrat-controlled House of Representativesapprove of the new the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) that seeks to replace NAFTA? Will our trade diplomats have a breakthrough with the Chinese and make it possible for us to sell our soybeans to them again?

We just dont knowwhat will happenand that makes it toughto know what to do.

TheWall Street Journalreportedon the problem a few weeks ago: Many farmers and agricultural officials said final crop choices might not be made until just weeks or days before planting gets under way, partly because of uncertainty over tariffs.

Farmers, of course, are accustomed to uncertainty. Inagriculture, we have to be flexible and ready to adapt. I suppose this is true for manykinds ofbusinesses,but especially true for farmers. There are no guarantees.

Thats whymarket access andtrade stability is important. If we can make reasonableguessesaboutmarketopportunities, we can make better planting decisions. This not only will improvemyfarms financial prospects, but itripplesthrough the whole economy.Everyone in rural Americawill be better offwhenfarmers likemyself prosper and reinvest in goods and services locally.

Some ofourplanting decisions are almost automatic. We rotate many of our fields between corn,soybeans, wheat, rye and dry beans. Thiscrop rotationcycle helps with weed and pest management. It also improves the soil, as soybeansand dry beans fixatenitrogen one year and corn, wheat and ryeconsumeitthe next. Study after study has shown thatthis patternof crop rotationleads to healthier plants, better weed and pest control, better soil managementand more foodproduction.

Lots of other factors influence our decisions. We always try to diversify our crops, partly as an insurance policy against a crop-specific problem.Wedonot put all our eggs in one basket.Wealsocheck our calendars,and make sure that were spreading our workloadacross weeks and months rather than packing it into just a few days. That gives us the time we need to farm properlyand efficiently manage resources.

We also have to pick our seedsand think hard about what traits will make the most sense in the months ahead.

When everything works well, we enjoy a good year. This fall, for instance, my farm is producing more corn than ever before. Were averaging more than 200 bushels per acre, which is incredible for our area.

Next year, well be ready for the regular uncertainties of farming. The utter unpredictability of tradeand market access, however, will act as an unwelcomewild card.

Will Mexicans buy the pinto beans thatwe havesold them for years? Or will a new dispute over USMCA, such as gridlock in Congress, block this market?

Will China re-open its market to U.S. soybeans? Sales came tonearly acomplete halt over the summer, as China retaliated against new tariffs on its exports to the United States.

Perhaps President Trump will make progress later this month at the G20 meetings in Argentina.We just dont know.

Manyof usfarmers have supported the president as he works to renegotiate old trade agreements and strike new deals. Andmany of us willkeep on sticking with him as he strives to create economic opportunities for Americans.

At some pointthough, were going to want to see results. If in a year were in the same position that we find ourselves in right nownot sure what to plantwith no progress on market accessthenPresidentTrump may begin to see his support erode among some of his biggest supporters. I hope and believe he will succeed.

On our farm, Im constantly asking whether weve done everything we can do to make ourselves successful. Luck may break for or against us, but we absolutely must control the things we can control.

Now Im asking President Trump and congressional leaders to control the thing that they can controlget market accessthat will allow farmers to sell what they grow around the world.All we are asking for is open, free and fair trade. American farmers can and will compete!