Agricultural officials released details for a second round of trade aid.
The aid package, devised by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), will assist farmers in response to trade damage from unjustified retaliation and trade disruption. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue adds, “The latest aid package ensures farmers will not bear the brunt by China or any other nation.
“Farmers themselves will tell you they’d rather have trade than aid. (However), without trade, they’re going to need support from a profitability standpoint,” Perdue said. “We honestly know and believe it’s a food security issue, which leads to a national security issue. Our team at USDA reflected on what worked well last year and what could’ve (been) done better, and then effectively redesigned this program.”
USDA Chief Economist Robert Johansson says this package is “slightly different” than the last, but believes “the main brush strokes remain the same.”
“We are comparing the difference in trade with tariffs on our exports to trade without those tariffs,” Johansson said. “We are (also) looking back a number of years to look at what China has purchased from us and are bringing that into our baseline for applying those tariffs too.”
The USDA has been authorized to provide up to $16 billion in aid. Monies once again will be funneled through the Market Facilitation Program (MFP), Food Purchase and Distribution Program and Agricultural Trade Promotion (ATP) Program.
The Market Facilitation Program will provide $14.5 billion in direct payments to specialty and non-specialty crop producers, as well as dairy and hog producers.
Payments for non-specialty crops will be awarded differently. USDA Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey addresses these changes.
“We will look at one, single payment,” Undersecretary Northey said. “Rob and his team have look(ed) at the trade damage each county is feeling. We then divide that by the acres planted within that county and then have a single payment, no matter which of those crops you plant.”
The first set of payments are scheduled for July/August. Additional payments will be awarded later, depending on U.S./China trade negotiations and further damage.