A Wisconsin lawmaker is demanding changes to Department of Agriculture trade aid distributions. Democrat Ron Kind, a U.S. Representative from Wisconsin, says the current Market Facilitation Program favors large farmers.
In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Kind says a study shows the top one percent of large farms received an average of $183,000 in trade aid, while the bottom eighty percent received under $5,000, on average. Additionally, 82 large farms received more than $500,000 and 95 percent of all payments went to the top 50 percent of farms.
The report also found that over $38 million in payments were sent to those living in large U.S. cities. In the letter, Representative Kind asked Secretary Perdue to outline what changes USDA would be making to ensure the second trade aid package is “effectively spending taxpayer dollars” and ensure the payments will be provided “solely to farmers facing the current difficult trade environment to export their products abroad.” USDA expects to send the next of payments soon.
Farm Service Agency offices starting today (Monday) are accepting producer applications for the Market Facilitation Program payments announced last week.
The payments are part of the $16 billion trade aid package for producers in 2019. The Department of Agriculture expects the first round of payments to start mailing around mid-to-late August. A producer will receive 50 percent of the per-acre payment rate in the first round of payments. So, if a county-level rate is $60, the producer would receive $30 per-acre in August, and the remaining $30 would be split between two additional payments, if they’re determined necessary by the Trump administration, later in the year.
Producers have until Friday, December 6, 2019, to apply. Dairy and hog producers are also eligible for aid, but have specific requirements producers must follow during the application process. USDA is encouraging all eligible producers to contact their local FSA office to apply, or find the application and requirements, along with the list of agricultural products covered, at www.farmers.gov/mfp.
The following statement may be attributed to American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall:
“We greatly appreciate President Trump’s concern for America’s farmers and ranchers in these difficult economic times, and we are grateful for this continued trade assistance to help our farmers and ranchers stay in business and continue feeding our nation. We look forward to reviewing the details of this new $16 billion aid package and its specific impact on each sector of agriculture.
“These are difficult times for agriculture, and the longer these trade wars continue, the deeper the impact on farm country. Farmers are being hit with tariffs on top of already-challenging economic conditions from severe weather events, low commodity prices, lack of available labor and a host of other impacts. It’s the perfect storm for agriculture, and these continuing trade wars are adding to the increasing financial burden on our farmers and ranchers.
“While we are grateful for the continuing support for American agriculture from President Trump and Secretary Perdue, America’s farmers ultimately want trade more than aid. It is critically important to restore agricultural markets and mutually beneficial relationships with our trading partners around the world.
“We are hopeful that trade negotiations with China will quickly lead to a resolution of trade disputes and that the administration will make important progress in negotiations with Japan and the European Union. At the moment, all eyes are on winning congressional approval for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.”