Although the USDA adopted a stricter rule on who qualifies for crop subsidies, farm-program reformers said on Monday there was more work to do. The new rule, which applies to people who say they deserve a payment because they help manage a farm, should be applied across the board to all USDA programs and it needs to have teeth, they said.
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.
This week's White House budget proposal to cut crop insurance by 31 percent and to tighten eligibility rules for farm subsidies would save less in 10 years than the administration spent to mitigate the impact of the Sino-U.S. trade war on 2018 and 2019 farm production, said an economist.
Farmers and ranchers are on their way to receiving $14.5 billion in trade war payments on their 2019 production, but that aid is skewed toward large farms and Southern states, said the senior Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee on Thursday.
Thanks to a steady recovery, U.S. farm income this year will be the highest since 2013, the peak of the commodity boom, said the government on Wednesday. The USDA forecast net farm income, a broad measure of profits, at $96.7 billion this year, with higher crop and livestock revenue offsetting the end of two years of mammoth Trump tariff payments.
At the same time he saluted the de-escalation of the Sino-U.S. trade war, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced on Monday the release of $3.6 billion in trade-war payments to farmers and ranchers. The money will raise the total for Trump tariff payments to producers to mitigate the impact of retaliatory tariffs on 2019 production to $14.5 billion.
President Trump employs a policy of “aggressive unilateralism” that views agriculture’s trade war losses as collateral damage that can be mitigated by a multibillion-dollar bailout, say the authors of a paper on the 2020 presidential race. The paper says Michael Bloomberg is “perhaps the strongest supporter of free trade among the various Democratic candidates” while Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren “are the most protectionist.”
An analysis by five economists says the Sino-U.S. trade war cut far deeper into U.S. farm exports to China than it appears in a simple tallying of sales before and after the tariffs were announced.
As President Trump scored his second trade victory in two days, Senate approval of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, he asked farmers on Thursday to remember the billions of dollars they had received in trade war payments.
Agricultural lending declined during the second half of 2019, and while that reflected lower production costs, it “likely also was due to an increase in revenue from government payments (Market Facilitation Program) connected to trade disputes that lingered through the year,” said the Federal Reserve on Thursday.