The slump in commodity prices that has accompanied the ongoing tit-for-tat trade war has sapped the farm economy this summer and poses financial risks going into the fall, said Federal Reserve banks in Chicago and Kansas City on Thursday.
Two-thirds of the Trump tariff bailout of U.S. agriculture will be paid in cash to crop and livestock producers, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue over the weekend. Some $200 million of the aid will be spent on developing new export customers, Perdue told Reuters, and the rest would be used to purchase food for donation, to indirectly help other producers.
U.S. farmers and ranchers were blindsided by the Trump trade war, but they will adapt quickly to lower commodity prices and disruptions in the export market, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Wednesday. “Farmers are smart,” he said, swatting down the idea that the White House will write another agriculture aid package after earmarking up to $12 billion for this year.
The Trump administration said on Tuesday that it will spend up to $12 billion on a one-time aid package to offset the impact of the tit-for-tat tariff war on the farm sector. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue described the move as a “short-term solution” that would give the president time to rebalance trade rules worldwide. Farm groups said they would prefer to see an end to the trade war.
In a survey of over 800 farmers and ranchers across five states, the Center for Rural Affairs found overwhelming support for the farm bill's Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). The Nebraska-based organization, which advocates for environmental stewardship and rural communities, concluded that the CSP should continue to exist and be funded as a standalone farm-bill initiative.
U.S. soybean exports will be down a quarter-billion bushels in the coming year due to steep Chinese tariffs on the oilseed, estimated the USDA on Thursday. In a boomerang effect of the U.S.-China trade war, Brazil would indisputably replace the United States as the world’s largest soybean grower as China scouts, without full success, for alternative soy suppliers.
Senators signaled their strong dissatisfaction with President Trump’s policy of trade warfare on Wednesday, while Trump said, falsely, that “farmers have done poorly for 15 years,” and pledged to remove trade barriers so that U.S. exports flow “better than ever before.”
For Iowa farmer John Heisdorffer, the math is brutal in the U.S.-China tariff war: "You tax soybeans at 25 percent and you have serious damage to U.S. farmers." China, the No. 1 customer for U.S. farm exports, canceled purchases of nearly $140 million worth of U.S. soybeans just before the two countries imposed tit-for-tat tariffs on each other's products. Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst said on Sunday the Trump administration was working on "a number of new free-trade agreements," but China "will be a much longer haul."
After a decade of robust growth, world production of soybeans will grow at a much slower rate of 1.5 percent annually in the years ahead, says two UN agencies in their annual Agricultural Outlook. Brazil, the longtime No. 2 to the United States in soybeans, will reach parity with America, said the report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Food and Agriculture Organization.
U.S. farmers planted nearly 2 million more acres of corn and soybeans than they planned in late winter, but soybeans, for the first time in 35 years, will be the most widely grown crop in the country, said the USDA's annual Acreage report. The soybean harvest could be the second-largest ever and corn the third-largest, assuming normal weather and yields.