Recall that to mitigate the damage to U.S. agriculture caused by our current tariff disputes, President Trump promised to give affected farmers $12 billion.
The USDA has now set up its Trade Mitigation Programs. As seems invariably to be the case, these are not simple; they involve three separate programs:
- The Food Purchase and Distribution Program
- The Market Facilitation Program
- The Agricultural Trade Promotion Program
Food Purchase and Distribution Program
The government (taxpayers) will purchase up to $1.2 billion in commodities and then distribute them to food assistance programs.
USDA issued a list. Here are some selected examples, to which you must add three zeros (amounts are in $1000s):
The big winner here is pork, hit badly by the trade disputes.
The Market Facilitation Program
This one gets a bigger slice—$4.7 billion.
Here, the big winner is soybeans — $3.6 of the $4.7 billion in payments. Corn producers are lpretty much left out. I can’t imagine tht they are pleased.
The Agricultural Trade Promotion Program
All I’ve seen about it is that USDA will spend $200 million on foreign market development.
What are we to make of this?
Whether trade groups are for or against this depends on how much of this pie they get. Overall agricultural losses will be greater than $12 billion, so everyone loses, but some more than others. The Environmental Working Group has filed a FOIA request for information about how USDA made these decisions. Can’t wait to see what they get.
Only half of that has been distributed so far.
Let’s hope the lobbying is transparent so we can see who is doing what.