The United States Department of Agriculture released details of its plan to aid U.S. farmers affected by trade disputes with China and other countries Monday.
The up to $12 billion relief plan was announced last month. The short-term plan will offer payments and other assistance to farmers through three programs.
“Early on, the president instructed me to make sure our farmers did not bear the brunt of unfair retaliatory tariffs,” Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said in a statement. “After careful analysis by our team at USDA, we have formulated our strategy to mitigate the trade damages sustained by our farmers. Our farmers work hard, and are the most productive in the world, and we aim to protect them.”
Perdue said the damage to farmers was caused by unjustified retaliatory trade restrictions placed on the U.S. by countries targeted by President Donald Trump for unfair trade practices. He also added that “it’s important to note that all of this could go away tomorrow if China and the other nations would simply correct their behavior.”
The three programs the USDA will utilize to assist agricultural producers to meet the costs of disrupted markets include the Market Facilitation Program, which will make payments to producers, the Food Purchase and Distribution Program and the Agricultural Trade Promotion Program.
Market Facilitation Program
The MFP will be facilitated by the USDA’s Farm Service Agency to provide payments to corn, cotton, dairy, hog, sorghum, soybean and wheat producers starting September 4. If a second round of payments is warranted, information will be released at a later date.
According to the USDA, the payment rates depend on the severity of trade disruption and the period of adjustment to new trade patterns. Applications for the first payment will become available online September 4 at www.farmers.gov/mfp. Producers can also submit applications in person, by mail, fax or email.
Producers can apply after harvest is 100 percent complete, and they can report their total 2018 production.
The first payment will be made on 50 percent of a producer’s total 2018 production. A second payment may become available for the remaining 50 percent, but will have a new payment rate.
Payment rates under the MFP are as follows:
Cotton — $0.06 per bushel
Corn — $0.01 per bushel
Dairy — $0.12 per hundredweight of milk
Hogs — $8 per head
Soybeans — $1.65 per bushel
Sorghum — $0.86 per bushel
Wheat — $0.14 per bushel
MFP payments are capped per person or legal entity at a combined $125,000.
Food Purchase and Distribution Program
The Food Purchase and Distribution Program will purchase up to $1.2 billion in commodities to be used for federal nutrition assistance programs, such as the Emergency Food Assistance Program and child nutrition programs.
USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service will buy commodities — largely nuts, fruits and vegetables — in four phases. AMS also plans to expand vendor outreach and registration.
Target amounts for spending on beef, dairy and pork were announced at $14,800,000, $84,900,000 and $558,800,000, respectively.
Agricultural Trade Promotion Program
Through the Agricultural Trade Promotion Program — administered by the Foreign Agricultural Service — $200 million will be available to help identify and develop new foreign markets. The idea being to mitigate some damage caused by other foreign markets, which have been interrupted.
The program will provide cost-sharing for consumer advertising, public relations, participation in trade fairs and more.
Applications for the ATP will be accepted until November 2, or until funding is exhausted. Funding should be allocated to eligible participants in early 2019.