President Donald Trump is headed to Iowa Tuesday afternoon to tout his administration’s fulfilled promise to remove barriers to year-round sales of higher blends of ethanol fuels. And while the news will be cheered by farmers in the audience, many will be hoping the Commander in Chief seizes the opportunity to provide more clarity on his second-year tariff aid plan.
The administration has announced up to $13 billion in tariff aid payments to farmers in 2019 under the Market Facilitation Program (MFP). But USDA is boxed in by regulations that require MFP payments go only to crops that were planted, locking out growers who have been rained out of their fields all planting season and opted to file prevented plant insurance claims.
USDA has been looking for a loophole to provide assistance to farmers forced to file prevented plant claims. A somewhat cryptic press release from USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue late Monday provides clues that USDA may have found a sliver of an opening.
“USDA is not legally authorized to make Market Facilitation Program payments to producers for acreage that is not planted,” Perdue said in the release. “However, we are exploring legal flexibilities to provide a minimal per acre market facilitation payment to folks who filed prevent plant and chose to plant an MFP-eligible cover crop, with the potential to be harvested and for subsequent use of those cover crops for forage.”
According to Perdue, details of the MFP payment program, including payment rates would be revealed in “coming weeks.”
President Trump will make public remarks at Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy in Council Bluffs scheduled for 3:20 p.m. Central. You can watch a live stream of the event in the player below.