A second round of trade aid will be sent to agricultural producers starting the week before Thanksgiving. This second of three possible payments will be 25 percent of the total payment, in addition to the 50 percent that has already been sent out.
Farm groups said they are grateful for the assistance, but were also critical of the program’s inequities.
“The USDA has taken significant pains to provide support to those affected by the trade war, for which National Farmers Union and its members are grateful,” NFU President Roger Johnson said. “But its execution has been far from perfect – the program has helped farmers in certain counties much more than others, even though those counties have not demonstrated any greater need for assistance. More alarmingly, it has provided significant payouts to millionaires and foreign-owned corporations, at the expense of vulnerable small- and mid-sized operations. These flaws are well documented and widely recognized, yet USDA has made no effort to address them.”
What farmers really need, however, is not trade aid, Johnson added, but actual markets in which to sell crops.
“We need more permanent solutions than this current plan can provide. Even if and when these trade disputes are resolved, farmers will still be coping with the fallout for years to come,” he said. “We urge the administration to work with Congress to develop policies that will stabilize agricultural markets and guarantee fair farm prices.”
Sen. John Hoeven, R-ND, said the second round of trade aid builds on $380 million in MFP payments already sent to North Dakota farmers and ranchers.
“Our producers are facing severe challenges right now, which we made clear to Under Secretary Northey during his visit to North Dakota last week,” he said. “We appreciate USDA working to get the next tranche of MFP payments out quickly and will continue working together to do all we can to support our producers during these challenging times. At the same time, we need the House to take up and pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, and to continue advancing trade negotiations to provide our producers with certainty. Ultimately, our producers want market access.”
Hoeven said he is also urging that the administration extend crop insurance deadlines and provide disaster assistance as quickly as possible. He has also urged that the USDA address understaffing at FSA offices, so that producers have timely access to services.
Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-ND, said he is pleased that Trump continues “looking out for farmers and ranchers.”
“I am grateful President Trump and Secretary Perdue are providing these necessary payments and working to protect American agriculture from unjustified trade disruptions,” he said. “I will continue monitoring this program to ensure this second round of payments is adequate for North Dakota’s agricultural community.”