USDA announces assistance for farmers hurt by foreign tariffs
On July 24 the USDA announced actions to assist farmers in response to foreign countries’ tariffs on U.S. agricultural products, according to a USDA press release. Specifically, USDA will authorize up to $12 billion in programs that will assist agricultural producers to meet the costs of disrupted markets.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said that U.S. farmers have been treated unfairly by China’s illegal trading practices and have taken a disproportionate hit from retaliatory tariffs.
According to the release, trade damage from such retaliatory tariffs has impacted numerous U.S. commodities, including field crops like soybeans and sorghum, livestock products like milk and pork, and many fruits, nuts, and other specialty crops. High tariffs disrupt normal marketing patterns, affecting prices and raising costs by forcing producers to find new markets.
The USDA also indicated there is evidence that American goods shipped overseas are being slowed from reaching market by unusually strict or cumbersome entry procedures, which can affect the quality and marketability of perishable crops. This can boost marketing costs and discount prices received by U.S. farmers.
The Market Facilitation Program, authorized under the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) Charter Act and administered by Farm Service Agency (FSA), will provide payments incrementally to producers of soybeans, sorghum, corn, wheat, cotton, dairy, and hogs. This support will help farmers manage disrupted markets, deal with surplus commodities, and expand and develop new markets at home and abroad.
Additionally, USDA will use the CCC Charter Act and other authorities to implement a food purchase and distribution program through the Agricultural Marketing Service to purchase unexpected surplus of affected commodities such as fruits, nuts, rice, legumes, beef, pork and milk for distribution to food banks and other nutrition programs.
Finally, the CCC will use its Charter Act authority for a trade promotion program administered by the Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) in conjunction with the private sector to assist in developing new export markets for U.S. farm products.