The federal government will offset what the U.S. Department of Agriculture says is $11 billion in “unjustified retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agricultural good” with programs to pay farmers directly and purchase surplus commodities.
The decision, announced by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, was quickly praised by organizations that have rallied awareness of the unequal penalty of the ongoing tariff fight has had on farms.
“The USDA’s $12 billion plan to support farmers caught up by the retaliatory tariffs slapped on U.S. agricultural products recognizes the dire need for some relief,” said New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher. “Farmers are already facing the financial consequences of the trade barriers. Commodity prices are once again dropping at a time when farm income has been at its lowest point in years.”
Fisher said Perdue “followed up on his word” with the massive scope of the relief program, but hoped that a long-term solution would come.
“We hope that the trade matter will quickly be resolved because short term relief can only go so far when farmers need to plan for the long term,” the Farm Bureau president said.
According to the USDA, funding will be disbursed through three avenues established under the New Deal era Commodity Credit Corporation.
• The Market Facilitation Program, administered by the Farm Service Agency, will provide incremental payments to produces of dairy, corn and other commodities to help farmers managed disrupted markets, deal with surplus commodities and develop new markets.
• A Food Purchase and Distribution Program through the Agricultural Marketing Service will 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.
• A Trade Promotion Program administered by the Foreign Agriculture Service in conjunction with the private sector will assist in developing new export markets for American farm products.
While local farms have been damaged from trade issues related to Canadian milk protectionism, Perdue said the largest impact comes from “China’s illegal trading practices.”
“America’s hard-working agricultural producers … have taken a disproportionate hit when it comes illegal retaliatory tariffs,” Perdue said in announcing the aid. “USDA will not stand by while our hard-working agricultural producers bear the brunt of unfriendly tariffs enacted by foreign nations.
“The programs we are announcing today help ensure our nation’s agriculture continues to feed the world and innovate to meet the demand,” the agriculture secretary said.
Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, said he supported the short-term emergency assistance “as we work toward better deals that reduce our trade deficit.”
“From the start, we were assured that the administration would take appropriate action to protect industries, like our nation’s agriculture industry, that may be impacted by the tariffs,” Collins said.
“Today’s announcement is a win for the dairy industry as President Trump continues to put American interests first and fight for fair trade deals.”
By: JIM KRENCIK
Source: The Daily News