Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Monday announced the details of the administration’s $12 billion retaliatory tariff relief plan. While the package is welcome relief from the battering farmers and ranchers are taking in the ongoing trade war, the real solution is more export markets for U.S. agricultural goods, according to American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall.
The tumbling livestock and crop prices that have followed tariffs imposed by China and other countries come on top of nearly five years of falling commodity prices that have led to lower revenues and higher debt levels for farmers and ranchers, Duvall noted in a statement.
“The additional burden of tariffs on the goods we sell to China, Canada, Mexico and the European Union has been more than many farmers can bear. The aid announcement gives us some breathing room, but it will keep many of us going only a few months more. The real solution to this trade war is to take a tough stance at the negotiating table and quickly find a resolution with our trading partners,” Duvall said.
Nationwide, farm income is at a 12-year low. More than 150,000 farms were lost to consolidation and financial failure in the U.S. during the decade that ended in 2017.
USDA plans to tap into a number of its programs to help agricultural producers to meet the costs of disrupted markets.
The Farm Service Agency will administer the Market Facilitation Program to provide payments to corn, cotton, dairy, hog, sorghum, soybean and wheat farmers starting Sept. 4.
The Agricultural Marketing Service will administer a Food Purchase and Distribution Program to purchase up to $1.2 billion in commodities unfairly targeted by unjustified retaliation. The Food and Nutrition Service will distribute these commodities through nutrition assistance programs.
Through the Foreign Agricultural Service’s Agricultural Trade Promotion Program, $200 million will be made available to develop foreign markets for U.S. agricultural products.