US Farm Assistance Details to Be Disclosed Next Week, Agriculture Secretary Says

August 23, 2018 Updated: August 24, 2018

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says that details of a planned $12 billion assistance package for American farmers hurt by retaliatory tariffs by China and other nations will be disclosed on Aug. 27.

The package is seen as a temporary boost to farmers as the United States and China negotiate trade issues.

Perdue, who previously said the plan would include between $7 billion and $8 billion in direct cash relief for farmers, said it was being reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget.

During a trip to upstate New York, Purdue said he hoped to have the program, which will provide relief exclusively from tariffs, up and running after Labor Day.

“It’s not going to make everybody whole. It’s not going to make everybody happy,” he said on Aug. 23 at a dairy farm in Schodack Landing.

The aid package, first announced in July, was expected to include cash for farmers of soybeans, sorghum, corn, wheat, cotton, dairy, and hogs, and include government purchases of fruits, nuts, rice, legumes, beef, pork and milk for distribution to food banks and nutrition programs.

Perdue has said it would include some $200 million for a trade promotion program to develop new markets.

The preliminary proposal was for a payment rate of $1.65 per bushel to soybean farmers and 1 cent per bushel for corn farmers, trade publication Agri-Pulse reported this week, citing officials close to the decision-making process. Perdue declined to comment on the report.

Based on the USDA’s forecast for a soybean crop of 4.586 billion bushels, that would be worth $7.6 billion in aid for soybeans alone.

China has traditionally bought about 60 percent of U.S. soybeans, but has been out of the market since implementing retaliatory tariffs.

“It’s not going to seem like it’s equitable,” Perdue said of the aid allocation.

He said soybeans, pork and dairy were the three major commodities affected by the tariffs. Other commodities have posted sharp price declines, but were related to overproduction, he noted.

The two nations escalated their trade war on Aug. 23, implementing punitive 25 percent tariffs on $16 billion worth of each other’s goods, even as mid-level officials from both sides resumed talks in Washington.