Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue says the USDA will take several steps to assist farmers suffering from trade damage due to unjust trade retaliation. USDA will authorize up to $12 billion in programs, which is in line with the estimated $11 billion impact of the retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agricultural goods. These programs will help producers to meet the costs of disrupted markets. A disproportionate number of the retaliatory tariffs were aimed directly at agricultural products. Perdue says this is a short-term solution that will allow the President more time to work on long-term trade deals to benefit agriculture and the U.S. economy. “The President promised to have the backs of every American farmer and he knows the importance of keeping our rural economy strong,” Perdue says. “USDA will not stand by while our agricultural producers bear the brunt of unfriendly tariffs enacted by foreign nations. The programs we’re announcing today help ensure our nation’s agriculture continues to feed the world.” The programs that USDA will use to assist American farmers include the Market Facilitation Program, develop a Food Purchase and Distribution Program, and a Trade Promotion Program. The aid doesn’t require congressional approval but would be provided through the Commodity Credit Corporation.
After the announcement, Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation President Jim Holte said, “The $12 billion package of assistance for farmers announced today is temporary relief. While it’s appreciated that the administration is showing support for farmers who have been financially struggling, they would benefit long-term from trade negotiations being ironed out. Farmers want trade, not aid, and Wisconsin Farm Bureau hopes to see progress on trade agreements soon.”
The Wisconsin Corn Growers Association released the following statement: “While support is appreciated, the USDA cannot fully compensate producers for their losses. What producers really need are prices that reflect a fair market value – especially in a time where tariffs and trade uncertainty are so prevalent,” says Doug Rebout, Wisconsin Growers Association President. “The proposal is a temporary fix but we need a long-term solution. While aid helps producers in the short-term, once we lose export markets it is very difficult, if not impossible, to get them back.”
USDA is projecting direct payments to individual farms, but is still working on details. They’ve said payments will be based on farmers’ production but didn’t say what multiplier will be used to determine the size of the checks. There’s also no indication of how much of the $12 billion in aid would be channeled through direct payments.