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The Trump administration announced yesterday a $12 billion plan to provide emergency aid to farmers to offset damages from the ongoing trade war with China and other trading partners. The programs that USDA will use in their relief efforts include the Market Facilitation Program, a Food Purchase and Distribution Program, and a Trade Promotion Program. The aid would be coordinated through the Commodity Credit Corporation, a Depression-era program that was created to “stabilize, support, and protect farm income and prices”.
“Wisconsin Farmers Union appreciates this gesture but urges the administration to swiftly resolve trade conflicts before further damage is inflicted on rural America,” said Wisconsin Farmers Union President Darin Von Ruden. “Ultimately, farmers would rather rely on fair prices for their products than on government handouts.”
Von Ruden stressed that the emergency relief is not a long-term solution. “While this is a generous emergency package, it is expected to only cover damages in this first round of the trade conflict,” he noted. “The costs of the tariffs are being accrued across the countryside daily, in a time when many family farms are already hurting.”
Von Ruden emphasized the importance of making sure the emergency relief is distributed fairly across the agricultural community, noting, “It’s vital that relief payments get into the hands of family farmers and aren’t solely channeled to large corporate agribusinesses.”
In a statement released July 24, National Farmers Union voiced support for the president’s efforts to improve fair trade relationships with trading partners, but expressed weariness of the administration’s go-it-alone, bull-in-a-china-shop approach.
“While we appreciate the move to provide stopgap assistance, this plan is a short-term fix to a long-term problem,” NFU President Roger Johnson said. “The administration must develop a support mechanism that will mitigate the significant damage that is being inflicted upon our most vital international markets for years to come. They should do this by working with Congress to ensure farm bill programs provide enough assistance to farmers when markets collapse.”
“Market prices for farm products are plunging from already very low levels, and it’s been estimated that farmers lost more than $13 billion last month alone due to trade disruptions,” Johnson added.