Farm groups welcomed the Market Facilitation Program payments announced Thursday but urge the Trump administration to restore trade markets quickly. With a depressed farm economy, and agitated global trade stemming from President Trump’s trade agenda, farm groups say U.S. agriculture desperately needs help. However, farmers would rather receive help through fair and free trade, not a government check. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says U.S. farmers are “grateful for the continuing support,” but says its “critically important to restore agricultural markets.” National Sorghum Producers Chairman Dan Atkisson says, “farmers need all the support they can get,” but calls for “meaningful dialogues that lead to long-term solutions” with China. National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson followed the trend, stating a “sense of confusion and insecurity will likely persist,” until a long-term solution is reached. NFU expressed disappointment the program doesn’t include efforts to reduce production, and questioned the fairness of the county-by-county basis of the payments. Meanwhile, China and the U.S. meet again next week to continue trade talks.
Food Purchases Planned Through MFP Payments
As farmers learn more about the payments planned through the Market Facilitation Program, the $16 billion package also includes up to $1.4 billion in commodity purchases. The Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service will purchase surplus commodities to be distributed to food banks, schools and other outlets serving low-income individuals. Specifically, USDA will spend up to $432 million to purchase U.S. poultry products, $208 million of pork and $200 of processed fruit and vegetable products. Additionally, USDA will buy $151 million of beef, $104 million worth of citrus products, $88 million of U.S. apples and $68 million of dairy products. The Agricultural Marketing Service will buy affected products in four phases, starting after October 1, 2019, with deliveries beginning in January 2020. The products will be distributed to states for use in food banks and food pantries that participate in The Emergency Feeding Assistance Program, elderly feeding programs such as the Commodity Supplemental Foods Program, and tribes that operate the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations.