The US Department of Agriculture has announced that it will begin distributing $4.7 billion in aid to farmers this fall to help offset losses from retaliatory tariffs on American exports. Sign-up for the program will begin on Sept. 4 and end in January. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Purdue said in the announcement, “Our farmers work hard and are the most productive in the world, and we aim to protect them.”
Most of the money will be going to soybean farmers, who will be receiving $1.65 per bushel multiplied by 50 percent of expected production, according to Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey. Soybeans make up about 60 percent of the $20 billion in American farm goods sent to China each year, but are now valued at $2 less per bushel than in March, when President Donald Trump placed new tariffs on Chinese exports.
Other aid payments will include payments for sorghum of 86 cents per bushel multiplied by 50 percent of production, 14 cents per bushel of wheat, 1 cent per bushel of corn, and 6 cents per pound of cotton. Hog farmers will be paid $8 per pig multiplied by 50 percent of Aug. 1 production. Dairy farmers will receive 12 cents per hundred weight of production. Farmers will need to present production evidence to collect payments.
The aid package will also include $1.2 billion in purchases of commodities. The purchases will be spread out over several months and distributed through nutrition assistance programs, including The Emergency Food Assistance Program and child nutrition programs. Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach said, “The specific commodities to be purchased are those that have been impacted by the unfair tariffs that have been imposed by other nations.”
The plan is already sparking backlash from some agricultural sectors that say the aid won’t come close to covering their losses. Kevin Skunes, president of the National Corn Growers Association, said in a statement, “Unfortunately, this plan provides virtually no relief to corn farmers.” Jimmie Musick, president of the National Association of Wheat Growers said, “This relief package shows that the administration isn’t grasping the tough conditions being faced by farmers.”