The Trump administration’s trade assistance payments have become so critical to farm profits that some growers could take a hit to their income if the program is discontinued in 2020 because of a trade deal with China.
A senior Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee called the panel’s top Republican a racist on Twitter as the normally bipartisan committee was rocked by funding over a measure needed to fund farmers’ trade aid payments.
A House stopgap spending bill aimed at avoiding an Oct. 1 government shutdown would ensure that trade assistance to farmers continues and also would bolster specialty crop research and fund USDA’s coming hemp program.
The Agriculture Department sharply increased commodity payment rates for its 2019 trade assistance package, boosting the corn rate by 14-fold and quadrupling cotton’s, based on higher estimates of the trade damage that farmers have suffered.
When the Department of Agriculture changed the way it distributed Market Facilitation Program payments for the 2019 edition of the program, it also changed where a good chunk of the payments were going.
Farmers who qualify for the upcoming round of trade assistance payments will get at least $15 an acre, says Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, who will release additional details of the Market Facilitation Program later in the week.