WASHINGTON, D.C., May 23 — Relief is on the way for farmers negatively impacted by trade disruption and retaliatory tariffs.
President Donald J. Trump renewed his commitment to farmers during a press briefing today at the White House where he announced the relief package.
“On every front, we are fighting for our great farmers, our ranchers, our growers,” said Trump, flanked by farm leaders including Alabama’s Mike Tate of Madison County, who is National Cotton Council chairman, and American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall, a Georgia farmer.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said Trump directed USDA to craft a relief strategy to support American agricultural producers while the administration continues to work on free, fair and reciprocal trade deals to open more markets and help American farmers compete globally.
Specifically, the president authorized USDA to provide up to $16 billion in programs, which is in line with the estimated impacts of unjustified retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agricultural goods and other trade disruptions. These programs will assist agricultural producers while Trump works to address long-standing market access barriers.
“China hasn’t played by the rules for a long time and President Trump is standing up to them, sending the clear message that the United States will no longer tolerate their unfair trade practices, which include non-tariff trade barriers and the theft of intellectual property,” Perdue said. “President Trump has great affection for America’s farmers and ranchers, and he knows they are bearing the brunt of these trade disputes. In fact, I’ve never known of a president that has been more concerned or interested in farmer wellbeing and long-term profitability than President Trump.
“Our team at USDA reflected on what worked well and gathered feedback on last year’s program to make this one even stronger and more effective for farmers,” Perdue added. “Our farmers work hard, are the most productive in the world, and we aim to match their enthusiasm and patriotism as we support them.”
Duvall praised news of the relief package while urging continued work on the trade front.
“The Trump Administration’s agricultural assistance package is welcome relief to an economic sector that has been battered by foreign competitors and retaliatory tariffs. We thank the president for living up to his commitment to stand by our farmers and ranchers,” Duvall said. “While farmers and ranchers would rather earn their income from the marketplace, they have been suffering during the agricultural downturn and trade war. This aid package will help us weather the storm as the administration works to correct unfair trade practices that have hurt the U.S. economy for too long.
“We are grateful for the work that President Trump and Secretary Perdue have devoted to this issue. However, the real, long-term solution to our challenges in agriculture is good outcomes to current negotiations with China, Japan and the European Union, as well as congressional approval of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. America’s farmers and ranchers need fair and open access to markets,” he added.
Components of the relief package:
- Market Facilitation Program (MFP) for 2019, authorized under the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) Charter Act and administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA), will provide $14.5 billion in direct payments to producers. Payments will be made in up to three phases, with the second and third evaluated as market conditions and trade opportunities dictate. The first payments will begin in late July or early August — as soon as practical after FSA crop reporting is completed by July 15. If conditions warrant, the second and third payments will be made in November and early January.
- CCC Charter Act authority will be used to implement a $1.4 billion Food Purchase and Distribution Program (FPDP) through the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) to purchase surplus commodities affected by trade retaliation such as fruits, vegetables, some processed foods, beef, pork, lamb, poultry and milk for distribution by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to food banks, schools and other outlets serving low-income individuals.
- CCC will use its Charter Act authority for $100 million to be issued through the Agricultural Trade Promotion Program (ATP) administered by the Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) to assist in developing new export markets on behalf of producers.
Further details regarding eligibility and payment rates will be released at a later date.
Meanwhile, farmers welcomed positive news related to agricultural trade earlier this month.
Perdue announced May 17 the United States and Japan agreed on new terms and conditions to eliminate Japan’s longstanding restrictions on U.S. beef exports, paving the way for expanded sales to the United States’ top global beef market. The new terms, which immediately took effect, allow U.S. products from all cattle, regardless of age, to enter Japan for the first time since 2003.
“This is great news for American ranchers and exporters who now have full access to the Japanese market for their high-quality, safe, wholesome and delicious U.S. beef,” Secretary Perdue said. “We are hopeful that Japan’s decision will help lead other markets around the world toward science-based policies.”
USDA estimates that this expanded access could increase U.S. beef and beef product exports to Japan by up to $200 million annually. The agreement is also an important step in normalizing trade with Japan, as Japan further aligns its import requirements with international standards for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).
Perdue also praised Trump for reaching an agreement with Canada and Mexico on steel and aluminum imports, which led to the lifting of retaliatory tariffs hurting U.S. farmers.
“I thank President Trump for negotiating a great deal and for negotiating the removal of these tariffs,” said Perdue on May 17. “Canada and Mexico are two of our top three trading partners. Congress should move swiftly to ratify the USMCA so American farmers can begin to benefit from the agreement.”