$16 billion trade relief package announced

Farmers will be paid based on their county, not by which crops they grow.

Of the $16 billion allocated for trade relief, $14.5 billion will be paid to farmers who grow corn, soybeans, wheat and other commodities. (Illinois Farm Bureau file photo)

By Deana Stroisch

USDA officials Thursday unveiled a $16 billion relief package for farmers affected by “unjustified retaliation and trade disruption.”

The three-part package, similar to last year’s federal assistance, includes direct payments, food purchases and extra money for ag trade promotion.

“The package we’re announcing today ensures farmers will not bear the brunt of those trade practices by China or any other nation,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said during a call with reporters. “While farmers themselves will tell you they’d rather have trade than aid, without the trade that has been possible then they’re going to need some support from a profitability standpoint.”

Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert Jr. thanked President Donald Trump and Perdue for their leadership and urged a quick resolution to the current trade disputes. Illinois farmers, he said, remain “in the crosshairs of this trade war.”

“While the aid package will help farmers pay their bills, this is not a long-term solution to the damages caused by lost markets,” Guebert said. “Farmers prefer to earn their income from the marketplace, which is why we must remain focused on resolving trade disputes and on forging new trade agreements with our global partners.”

The package includes:

Mitigation Facilitation Program payments. USDA will provide $14.5 billion worth of direct payments to farmers growing various commodities – including corn, soybeans and wheat. Payments will be based on a single county rate multiplied by a farm’s total plantings in aggregate. Total payment-eligible plantings cannot exceed total 2018 plantings.

The county rate, which will be announced at a later date, will be “based on trade damage,” according to Bill Northey, USDA undersecretary for farm production and conservation.

“We’ll look at the trade damage each county is feeling, we then come up and divide that by the acres planted within that county, and then have a single payment, no matter which of those crops that you plant,” Northey said. “We’re still in a place where producers are making planting decisions, and we need to make sure folks have the complete flexibility in this challenging planting season to plant what works for them.”

Dairy farmers will receive a per hundredweight payment on production history and hog producers will receive a payment based on hog and pig inventory for a later-specified time frame.

The first payment will be made in late July or August, with two additional payments possible in November and early 2020 if needed, according to USDA.

Food Purchase and Distribution Program. The package includes $1.4 billion to purchase surplus commodities affected by trade retaliation, including fruits, vegetables, beef, lamb, poultry and milk for distribution to food banks, school and other outlets serving low-income individuals.

Ag Trade Promotion Program. An additional $100 million will be dedicated to help develop and enhance new export markets.






Content for this story was provided by FarmWeekNow.com.

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