In July, the President announced a package of agricultural assistance to provide a measure of temporary relief to our farmers experiencing the financial effects of the trade war. Secretary Sonny Perdue was tasked with crafting a short-term relief strategy to protect agricultural producers while the Administration works on trade deals to open more markets, in the long run, to help American farmers compete globally the trade mitigation package is an acknowledgment by the administration that the current trade war is exerting significant financial pressure on our farmers and will buy us some time while work continues ironing out the trade situation.
As announced last month, USDA will authorize up to $12 billion in programs, consistent with World Trade Organization obligations. This week, the USDA detailed its first round of plans for how it will use these funds to compensate farmers for trade losses due to unjustified retaliation from other countries:
- USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will administer the Market Facilitation Program (MFP) to provide payments to corn, cotton, dairy, hog, sorghum, soybean, and wheat producers starting September 4, 2018. An announcement about further payments will be made in the coming months if warranted.
- USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) will administer a Food Purchase and Distribution Program to purchase up to $1.2 billion in commodities unfairly targeted by unjustified retaliation. USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) will distribute these commodities through nutrition assistance programs such as The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and child nutrition programs.
- Through the Foreign Agricultural Service’s (FAS) Agricultural Trade Promotion Program (ATP), $200 million will be made available to develop foreign markets for U.S. agricultural products. The program will help U.S. agricultural exporters identify and access new markets and help mitigate the adverse effects of other countries’ restrictions.
The initial package should help many of our farmers weather the rough road ahead and assist in their dealings with their financial institutions. However, we cannot overstate the dire consequences that farmers are facing in relation to lost export markets. The mitigation package helps, but our emphasis continues to be on free trade and restoring markets, and we will continue to push for a swift and sure end to the trade war and the tariffs impacting American agriculture. The other tool our farmers need to survive these trade disruptions, and the depressed farm economy is for Congress to pass a new farm bill. The farm bill includes much-needed help for dairy producers and corn growers, provides funding for market development, and other valuable resources.
We appreciate the hard work of Secretary Perdue and USDA on implementing this assistance package in an expedited manner.