Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced Friday that USDA will begin making its second tranche of 2019 Market Facilitation Program (MFP) payments this week.
The payments will be “aimed at assisting farmers suffering from damage due to unjustified trade retaliation by foreign nations,” USDA said in a news release.
Producers of MFP-eligible commodities will now be eligible to receive another 25% of the total payment expected, in addition to the 50% they have already received from the 2019 MFP.
“This second tranche of 2019 MFP payments, along with already provided disaster assistance, will give farmers, who have had a tough year due to unfair trade retaliation and natural disasters, much needed funds in time for Thanksgiving,” said Perdue said in the release.
“President Trump has shown time and again that he is fighting for America’s farmers and ranchers. While we continue to have confidence in the president’s negotiations with China, this money shows President Trump following through on his promise to help and support farmers as he continues to fight for fair market access.”
Details may be found on the Farm Service Agency website. (See link.)
A third tranche will be evaluated as market conditions and trade opportunities dictate, USDA said. If conditions warrant, the third tranche will be made in January 2020.
The Red River Farm Network also reported that, in a speech to the National Association of Farm Broadcasters meeting in Kansas City, Perdue said, “If we get a trade deal, what are the expectations from the producer and what are the expectations for 2020?”
“I think farmers said from the very beginning and I believe them that they want trade, not aid,” Perdue said.
“I’m hoping we get a trade deal that moves the market in a very positive way. We don’t want to have to rely on them (Market Facilitation Program payments) permanently; I’m not encouraging anyone to expect a 2020 payment.”
National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson said its member are “appreciative of USDA’s efforts to provide farmers with much-needed relief,” but that he was “disappointed that the agency did not rectify any of the program’s inequities, nor has it established any mechanisms to ensure fair and stable commodity prices.”
Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill,, who also sits on the Senate Agriculture Committee, in a statement emphasized his view that the payments are not fair to Midwestern farmers.
“Illinois soybean farmers have been badly hurt by the president’s nearly two-year trade war with China,” Durbin said.
“Worse yet, when you look at trade aid payments per acre, the top five states are in the South, with Georgia ranked No. 1. Cotton was barely touched by the Trump-China trade war and soybeans were clobbered. Is the secretary of Agriculture playing it straight?”
Durbin noted that he and 16 other Democratic senators sent a letter to Perdue last week, urging USDA to “improve its trade assistance program to better support farmers based on harm and pursue a focused trade policy to rebuild the markets American farmers have lost.”