Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today announced USDA will authorize up to $12 billion for programs to help farmers and ranchers caught in the crossfire of a tariff war. The funding is in line with the estimated $11 billion impact of the retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agricultural goods, according to USDA.
The agricultural assistance package will provide a welcome measure of temporary relief to farmers and ranchers who are experiencing the financial squeeze of a trade tit-for-tat, American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said in a statement.
“This should help many of our farmers and ranchers weather the rough road ahead and assist in their dealings with their financial institutions. We are grateful for the administration’s recognition that farmers and ranchers needed positive news now and this will buy us some time,” Duvall said.
He continued, “This announcement is substantial, but we cannot overstate the dire consequences that farmers and ranchers are facing in relation to lost export markets. Our emphasis continues to be on trade and restoring markets, and we will continue to push for a swift and sure end to the trade war and the tariffs impacting American agriculture.”
USDA intends to use the Market Facilitation Program to provide payments incrementally to producers of soybeans, sorghum, corn, wheat, cotton, dairy and hogs. In addition, the department will implement a food purchase and distribution program through the Agricultural Marketing Service to purchase unexpected surplus of affected commodities such as fruits, nuts, rice, legumes, beef, pork and milk for distribution to food banks and other nutrition programs. Finally, the Foreign Agriculture Service, in conjunction with the private sector, will assist in developing new export markets for U.S. farm products.