When the Trump administration poured billions of dollars into rural America to mitigate the impact of trade war, "most of it bypassed the country's traditional small and medium-sized farms that were battered by the loss of their export market," said the CBS News program 60 Minutes on Sunday. It's just as likely big farmers will benefit in a big way when the USDA disburses $16 billion in coronavirus-relief cash to farmers and ranchers, said the program.
Out of the $23.5 billion earmarked for agriculture in the latest coronavirus relief package, "I think at least $9 billion will be going to livestock producers," said Senate Agriculture chairman Pat Roberts on Wednesday.(No paywall)
Farmers and ranchers would see $23.5 billion in aid under the coronavirus bill agreed on by the Senate and the Trump administration on Wednesday. The two largest U.S. farm groups welcomed the aid but said more may be needed to survive the looming economic slowdown. (No paywall)
The two largest U.S. farm groups want lawmakers to nearly double the funding for "USDA's bank," the Depression-era vehicle for multibillion-dollar Trump tariff payments, and give Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue the power to help farmers and ranchers through the coronavirus outbreak. Commodity prices are down sharply and the head of the FAPRI think tank says farm income is likely to be "significantly lower" than expected due to economic disruptions caused by the virus.(No paywall)
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the odds of a multibillion-dollar round of trade war payments to farmers this year are “less than 10 percent,” although a senior lawmaker said the payments may be "absolutely vital" for survival in the Farm Belt. China will turn to the U.S. market for soybeans “late this spring, this summer,” Perdue predicted during a House Agriculture hearing on Wednesday.
Farmers are optimistic about the resumption of trade with China and, as a result, fewer of them believe the Trump administration will send trade war payments to producers this year, said a Purdue University poll on Tuesday. Fewer than half of the producers contacted by the Ag Economy Barometer said they anticipated payments this year, compared to nearly six out of 10 last fall.
A handful of farm states, mostly in the Midwest and Plains, emerge as net winners when the impact of retaliatory Chinese tariffs are weighed against the Trump administration's trade-war payments to farmers, say three university economists.
U.S. ag exports have gained limited traction from President Trump's ballyhooed trade victories, but Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is optimistic that demand will improve. "I hope we can show that a third round [of trade war payments] is not needed for 2020," Perdue said in a statement. "We still believe farmers want trade rather than aid."
Besides weighing potential market prices against the cost of fuel, fertilizer and seeds, farmers have a new factor for their planting decisions: Will it assure them of a trade war payment? President Trump's suggestion that if his trade deals with China and other nations are slow to bear, "aid will be paid by the federal government," could encourage farmers to plant more land this spring than would otherwise be justified.