There won’t be any trade relief payments for farmers with unplanted crops. Politico quotes an unnamed official as saying USDA has made the determination. However, a department spokesman did not confirm or deny that a decision had been made either way. Last month, the department said it would pay up to $14.5 billion directly to producers who’ve been hit hard by President Donald Trump’s trade war.
The payment rate would be determined partly by the total amount of a farm’s planted acres. Growers who didn’t get a crop in the ground wouldn’t be eligible for the help. Ag economists raised concerns that producers might plant crops just to try and collect some trade aid help when they otherwise wouldn’t put a crop in the ground.
Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue said USDA was looking at whether or not they could legally offer trade aid for unplanted acres, noting that, “You have to have something to sell or trade for a tariff impact.” However, farm groups made the case that trade tension can affect producers’ crop insurance coverage when they can’t plant due to the weather. Those revenue guarantees are based in part on commodity prices, which have dropped because of retaliatory tariffs. Politico says not offering trade aid on unplanted acres would bring USDA right back to where it started on the issue.