Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Program to help farmers hurt by trade war has aided few

"America’s farmers have been shut out of foreign markets, hit with retaliatory tariffs and lost lucrative contracts in the face of President Trump’s trade war. But a $12 billion bailout program Mr. Trump created to 'make it up' to farmers has done little to cushion the blow, with red tape and long waiting periods resulting in few payouts so far," Alan Rappeport reports for The New York Times.

The money is being released in two $6 billion installments: the first was made available in September and the second is expected to be available next month. Only $838 million has been given to farmers since the first $6 billion was available. The government probably won't offer any additional money, according to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. It comes from the USDA's Commodity Credit Corp., which can borrow up to $30 billion without approval of Congress.

The government also plans to buy about $1.3 million worth of some products like apples, oranges and pork to distribute through nutrition-assistance programs, Rappeport reports. Farmers in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas and Minnesota have been the biggest beneficiaries of the program so far.

Though the president still enjoys broad support in agricultural states, farmers are getting more concerned about such basic needs ad the need to sell their soybeans. Adding to the pressure, Europe plans to impose more retaliatory tariffs on the U.S., and Canada and Mexico are still taxing American goods such as pork and cheese, Rappeport reports.

"Farmers had mixed feelings about the bailout when it was announced last summer, as they tend to prefer free enterprise over government intervention, but many are disappointed as the subsidies have not made up for their losses," Rappeport reports. "The dairy industry has been particularly critical of the program and, in a letter to Mr. Perdue, asked the administration to rethink how it calculates subsidies and to make them more generous to dairy farmers."

No comments: