The Trump administration announced Monday a second and “final” round of trade aid for farmers and ranchers burned by retaliatory tariffs, including roughly $4.9 billion in additional direct payments for certain commodity producers.
The second batch of trade relief payments will apply to the second half of 2018 production for producers of corn, soybean, wheat, sorghum, cotton, shelled almonds, sweet cherries, dairy and pork, according to USDA. The payment rates for each farm good included in the program were unchanged from the first round of direct aid, announced in August, and producers only need to sign up once to be eligible for both rounds of payments.
“Today I am making good on my promise to defend our Farmers & Ranchers from unjustified trade retaliation by foreign nations,” President Donald Trump tweeted. “I have authorized Secretary [Sonny] Perdue to implement the 2nd round of Market Facilitation Payments. Our economy is stronger than ever–we stand with our Farmers!“
USDA in July authorized up to $12 billion in assistance to producers dealing with low commodity prices amid Trump’s trade disputes. After Trump slapped tariffs on steel and aluminum imports and a wide range of Chinese goods, other countries imposed retaliatory duties on American agricultural goods, like soybeans and pork, lowering demand and driving down prices.
“While there have been positive movements on the trade front, American farmers are continuing to experience losses due to unjustified trade retaliation by foreign nations,” Perdue said in a statement. “This assistance will help with short-term cash flow issues as we move into the new year.”
The additional trade relief for 2018 production announced today follows a $6.3 billion batch that USDA unveiled in August, which included $4.7 billion in direct payments, $1.2 billion in commodity purchases and $200 million in market development efforts. The sign-up period ends Jan. 15, but producers have until May to certify their 2018 production.
Farmers and commodity groups have complained that the government aid has been insufficient to make up for the financial impact of the administration’s tariff policies. USDA is not planning further trade assistance for 2019 production, department officials have said.
Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine
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