The U.S. Agriculture Department has authorized up to $12 billion to be paid out to US farmers hurt by retaliatory tariffs. USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue says the funds will help a broad number of farmers deal with the cost of “disruptive markets.” Perdue says these programs are intended for this production season.
As the agriculture secretary and other senior USDA officials emphasize, the programs designed to mitigate tariff impacts on producers are short term in nature. Perdue told reporters Wednesday that specific emphasis is on helping farmers and ranchers through the 2018 crop and production year.
“We know that these markets equilibrate over a period of time, as they always do, but these are things that producers, when they planted in the spring had no idea they were coming about,” he explained.
The secretary does not expect as much trade disruption damage in future years, in part through resolution of existing trade disputes, new markets, and grower decisions going forward.
“Farmers are smart,” Perdue said. “They will make their planning decisions for ’19 based on where the markets look like they are there.”
“We’ve got a market facilitation program, and that’s going to provide payments directly to producers of soybeans, sorghum, corn, wheat, cotton, dairy and hogs. We’ve got another program called the food purchase and distribution program, and that’s going to seek to go out and purchase additional surplus that we’re seeing as a result of illegal tariff action for commodities like fruit, nuts, rice, legumes, beef, pork and milk for distribution to our nutrition programs and food banks.”
Additionally, the agency is looking to extend and develop new markets with the assistance of the private sector. Johansson says that will not be targeted at specific commodities, just an overall effort to build markets domestically and globally.
Secretary Perdue says the plan doesn’t require congressional approval and rollout is being planned for the Labor Day time frame.