Farmers and ranchers will need assistance from the federal government beyond the $16 billion in cash payments that were promised a month ago, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. During a broadcast interview, Perdue said producers will be eligible for more than the $125,000 per commodity that was proposed by the USDA.
“We listened to them,” said Perdue, referring to objections from livestock groups and lawmakers that $125,000 was too little. “We’ve adjusted the payment limit. We’ll see those when they (the rules) come out.”
During the interview with Brownfield Ag News, Perdue said three times that the $16 billion in cash would be insufficient in the face of agricultural needs. Prices for most major commodities plunged as the coronavirus became pandemic. “We do not believe this initial payment will be sufficient to help people survive in many places the pandemic trauma that’s occurred,” he said.
This would be the third year in a row that the administration has created a stopgap aid program that is more generous than the crop subsidy programs that are part of the so-called farm bill, with a nominal limit of $125,000 per farmer. In 2018 and 2019, the trade-war payments provided by the administration had limits twice as high. When Perdue outlined the coronavirus program last month, the USDA said the limits would be $125,000 per commodity and $250,000 per farmer or entity.