The latest Farm Journal Pulse survey shows less than 50% of farmers would sign up for USDA’s $12 billion tariff aid package given the information they have today.
In mid-July, USDA announced a $12 billion tariff aid package to help farmers bear the brunt of the trade war with China, Mexico and the EU. Late last week, 1,115 farmers who participate in the Farm Journal Pulse were asked if they plan to sign up for the bail out. Only 46% of the farmers surveyed said they planned to sign up. Another 6% said they do not plan to participate in the program. And another 48% said they will need more information to decide.
The survey indicates USDA has not yet provided enough detail on how the aid money will be distributed. While Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says he’s confident the aid will relieve some of the pain farmers are feeling, there are very few program details available. While there’s much speculation surrounding how the program will function, here’s what little information we know to be true.
According to Perdue, the funds will be paid out through three programs administered by USDA under the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act. The programs include a market facilitation program which would result in farmer payments, a food purchase and distribution program which would purchase surplus of goods going to nutrition programs, and a trade promotion program to provide private sector assistance to new markets.
The funds will not be distributed equally among the crops and products that qualify. Program payments through the market facilitation program will be based on actual 2018 production data, meaning payments won’t be able to be calculated until after harvest. In fact, USDA under secretary for marketing and regulatory programs, Greg Ibach, says the details will be released closer to Labor Day when USDA plans to fully implement the program.
As the harvest draws near and Labor Day does too, farmers are hopeful USDA will release further details to help them decide what course of action they should take regarding the aid package.
Still, the statement ringing out across farm country is “Trade, Not Aid.”
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Want to know more about the aid package? More here: