Farmers in five Midwest states have claimed almost half of the $8.5 billion in trade assistance payments that USDA has provided so far as compensation for losses due to retaliatory tariffs. 

According to an analysis from the American Farm Bureau Federation, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Indiana received about 46% of all the Market Facilitation Program payments that have been made. Illinois led the way in receiving over $1.1 billion, the only state in the country to top $1 billion. Iowa was second with nearly $986 million.

The 2018 version of the program distributed direct payments to producers based on USDA’s analysis of how individual commodities were harmed by the Trump administration’s trade disputes. The broader trade mitigation package also included funding for ag product trade promotion and purchases of surplus commodities for donation to the nation’s food banks.

At $1.65 per bushel, soybean producers received the largest payment rate of any commodity and accounted for the vast majority of the payments, over $7 billion. That accounted for nearly all of the payments received by producers in Illinois ($1.06 billion if MFP payments for soybeans), Iowa ($908 million), and other Corn Belt states.

Cotton, which had an MFP rate of 6 cents per pound, came in second on the total commodity payments at just over $471 million. Texas was No. 1 in cotton payments with $174 million. 

California, the nation's No. 1 agricultural state by sales, ranks No. 20 in MFP payments at $70.5 million, $38 million of which was for dairy producers. 

The figures are based on distributions as of May 13 and represent about 90% of the original direct payment allocation, AFBF economists said.

USDA has announced plans to distribute MFP payments again in 2019, but the formula will be based on county-by-county effects of tariffs and other trade policies. Details of the payment formula have not been announced.

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