The USDA is working with a smaller amount of money for coronavirus relief than is commonly believed, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Wednesday. He indicated the agency has $15.5 billion at its disposal — two-thirds of the figure that has been widely cited. (No paywall)
By driving down commodity prices, the coronavirus outbreak is draining $50-$90 an acre from the corn and soybean revenue that farmers expect to receive this year, said economists Brent Gloy and David Widmar on Monday. Farm leaders said the counterweight to falling prices and economic uncertainty should be federal support. (No paywall)
With USDA sending $1 billion a week to farmers, senior Democrats on the House Agriculture Committee argued on Monday for Congress to give USDA an early infusion of cash to keep trade-war payments flowing to farm country. The House is scheduled to vote this week on a short-term government funding bill that may include money for aid to agriculture, the only sector of the U.S. economy to get a trade-war bailout.
The Trump administration can pay billions of dollars in trade aid to farmers and ranchers this year, and in 2020, too, if it wishes, because Congress quietly and reliably replenishes funding for the Commodity Credit Corp., sometimes referred to as the “USDA’s bank.” (No paywall) (No paywall)
The U.S. House opened debate on a mammoth federal spending bill, including money for the USDA, on Tuesday under the threat of a presidential veto of the $322 billion bill. The White House said it opposed half a dozen USDA provisions in the bill, including language that would preclude relocating two research agencies to Kansas City and implementing a new inspection system for hog-slaughter plants.
President Trump says his administration will "make it up" if farmers and ranchers are hurt by Chinese trade retaliation. Two agricultural leaders in Congress were skeptical of possible politically driven bail-outs on Tuesday, with Senate Agriculture chairman Pat Roberts saying, "We don't want another subsidy program. We need to sell our product."