President Donald Trump and USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue unveiled a new version of a tariff relief plan on Thursday designed to alleviate financial pains caused by the ongoing trade war with China. The second year of the program has been altered, featuring a aggregated payment structure for all Title I crops rather than a per-bushel, per crop payment as in 2018. The switch was designed to avoid skewing planting intentions and to avoid competing crop squabbles.
Does the new plan meet those goals and does it provide relief for farmers? AgWeb asked farmers and ranchers in our Pulse Poll if they approve of the new Market Facilitation Program (MFP).
While the plan does not yet meet the approval of a majority of growers, 45% of the 930 who responded said they do approve of the 2019 MFP. Only 19% disapprove, but a significant 36% said they do not yet know if they approve of the plan.
That uncertainty may be somewhat intentional. USDA has deliberately left key components of the plan, such as payment rates and caps, unknown.
“We have not disclosed details that would distort planting intentions for intentional purposes, because we always want our producers to plan for the market, not for government programs, whether they be farm bill programs, or safety nets or something like this,” Perdue told AgriTalk Radio host Chip Flory. “So what we're saying is you make your decision based on the weather and the markets and do what you were going to do, regardless of any kind of government program.”