Farmers waiting for details on trade assistance package

Chad Smith

The Trump administration recently announced a $12 billion relief package to help the nation’s farmers who are currently struggling under the weight of trade disputes. While the help is appreciated, farmers are waiting to hear more details on how the relief will be distributed.

Details on trade assistant package may be forthcoming by the end of August.

Dale Moore, American Farm Bureau Federation vice president of public affairs, says while farmers wait for aid details, they would much rather see the tariff disputes resolved in a way that opens vital overseas markets to American agricultural goods.

"U.S. exports of agriculture crops can reach 70 percent for some commodities like cotton. For some of the wheat along the Pacific Northwest, it can be as high as 60 percent," Moore said in a recent interview. "Soybeans have kind of been front and center in terms of the impacts on this, and, China’s one of our major markets. And, grain sorghum earlier this year, actions related to China and the impacts there, we had grain sorghum producers lost a $900 million market."

There are still questions regarding how farmers can tap into the aid package, including what kind of information they’ll have to provide. Moore says USDA officials told Farm Bureau that they hope to have more information in the next couple of weeks.

"We don’t know exactly what information they’re going to be looking for, but a number of the programs are going to be working through the Farm Service Agency offices out across the country," he said. "A number of the programs are also going to be operating out of the Agricultural Marketing Service, so, right now, what we don’t know are the details of how signup is going to go, what information you as a farmer have to bring to the table, but we’re certainly going to be monitoring that closely and getting that information out as soon as possible."

USDA will help farmers through a food purchase program. Officials tell Farm Bureau that they’ll make every effort not to disrupt ongoing business.

"What we also know is they’ve made it clear that they’re going to be very careful not to interfere with normal marketing and purchases out there, so they’ve got a lot of work to do on that front as well," Moore said. "We’re looking forward to the tail end of August when the Federal Register notice is published so that we can get into some of these details."