When crop insurance indemnities and unemployment benefits are counted, the government sent $57.7 billion to farm operations and farm households in 2020, while the pandemic sent the U.S. economy into recession, said a working paper by USDA economists. It was the highest estimate yet of federal assistance to farmers last year and the most inclusive.
The final coronavirus aid package of the year would direct 3 percent of its $900 billion in funding to food assistance and relief for agricultural producers, according to its Democratic and Republican sponsors. "It's a deal that must come together," said one of the sponsors, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, on Sunday.
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.(No paywall)
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.
Farmers and ranchers will need billions of dollars in coronavirus aid beyond the $16 billion in cash that USDA plans to disburse by June, 28 senators said in a letter to President Trump. At the same time, a band of university economists said USDA aid is weighted 4-to-1 toward producers and that the agency "should arguably show an equivalent amount of creativity to help the broader spectrum of struggling Americans with food needs."(No paywall)
Farmers will get cash payments of up to $250,000 apiece — possibly more, depending on the rules — to survive an estimated 20-percent drop in farm income this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. President Trump announced $16 billion in direct agricultural aid and said additional money might be be spent this summer to bolster the sector.(No paywall)
The federal government could provide 40 percent of U.S. farm income this year, according to one analysis of the coronavirus relief funds. President Trump said at least $16 billion will be available "very quickly" for the farm sector.(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)
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.
Fueled by $14.5 billion in Trump tariff payments, U.S. net farm income will climb to its highest total since the commodity boom crested in 2013 and a dramatic rebound from the plunge that accompanied its collapse, the USDA estimated. When crop insurance indemnities are added to "direct farm program payments," a category that includes trade war aid, land stewardship payments and traditional crop supports, the government will provide an unusually high 31 percent of farm income this year.
With the Sino-U.S. trade war unresolved, the Trump administration released $3.625 billion in trade-war payments to farmers and ranchers on Friday to offset losses on 2019 production. Payments will begin this week and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said they "will give farmers, who have had a tough year due to unfair trade retaliation and natural disasters, much needed funds in time for Thanksgiving.”
A veritable footnote in the $4 trillion federal budget could become a top-line issue this week in the debate between lawmakers and the administration over government funding. House Democrats might refuse to provide money for the obscure USDA agency that has sent billions of dollars in cash to farmers and ranchers to mitigate the impact of the Sino-U.S. trade war.
Although most producers say Trump tariff payments will "completely or somewhat" relieve the impact of the Sino-U.S. trade war on their operations, farmer confidence is plummeting, according to a Purdue University poll released Tuesday. The Ag Economy Barometer, a gauge of the health of the agricultural economy, fell from a record high of 153 in July to the lowest reading — 124 — since May.(No paywall)
President Trump was ambivalent about this week's trade talks with China, saying "I don't know if they're going to make a deal," even as China hinted at goodwill purchases of U.S. farm exports. Meanwhile, the White House said China, the second-largest economy in the world, ought to shed its status at the WTO as a developing nation and to play by the same rules as the United States and other industrial nations.
Two months after President Trump announced a $16-billion package to buffer the impact of the Sino-U.S. trade war on farmers and ranchers this year, the first driblet of the money is flowing — $100 million for market development. The awarding of the funds, announced by the USDA over the weekend, suggests the rest of the program could swing into operation in the days ahead.
American farmers may benefit doubly during efforts to end the Sino-U.S. trade war, suggested President Trump over the weekend. They will get billions of dollars in payments intended to mitigate the impact of the trade war on the agricultural sector, and China will buy "a tremendous amount" of U.S. food and ag exports while bilateral negotiations are ongoing.
The farm safety net offers many strands of support to farmers swamped by a historically slow planting season, but the strands pull in different directions, says associate professor Bradley Lubben, of the University of Nebraska. "The complexity for producer decision-making is compounded," he said, when potential Trump tariff payments and disaster aid are woven into traditional crop subsidies and crop insurance.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said he'll have a decision "sooner rather than later" — maybe by Friday or maybe next week in Iowa with the president — on whether unplanted cropland will be eligible for Trump tariff payments this year. The USDA initially said unplanted land would not be eligible for the up to $14.5 billion in trade-mitigation payments, but the huge amount of flooded land in the Midwest prompted a second look at the question.