By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
USDA offers relief to farmers hurt by tariff war
tariffs meeting
Bill Berryhill, chair of the California Association of Winegrape Growers, signs his name to a banner supporting free trade during a meeting held by farmer and food processor associations in April to discuss the tariffs and their affect on California’s agriculture industry.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced Tuesday that the federal government will take several actions to assist farmers being hit by retaliatory tariffs in President Donald Trump's escalating trade disputes with China and other countries.

President Trump directed Secretary Perdue to craft a short-term relief strategy to protect agricultural producers. Specifically, USDA will authorize up to $12 billion in programs, which will assist agricultural producers to meet the costs of disrupted markets.

“This is a short-term solution to allow President Trump time to work on long-term trade deals to benefit agriculture and the entire U.S. economy,” Secretary Perdue said.  “The President promised to have the back of every American farmer and rancher, and he knows the importance of keeping our rural economy strong. Unfortunately, America’s hard-working agricultural producers have been treated unfairly by China’s illegal trading practices and have taken a disproportionate hit when it comes illegal retaliatory tariffs.  USDA will not stand by while our hard-working agricultural producers bear the brunt of unfriendly tariffs enacted by foreign nations. The programs we are announcing today help ensure our nation’s agriculture continues to feed the world and innovate to meet the demand.”

Ultimately, farmers and ranchers want what we have always wanted: to trade on a fair basis with customers around the world who want to buy our products. We will continue to urge the administration and our congressional delegation to resolve the trade disputes as quickly as possible.
California Farm Bureau President Jamie Johansson

USDA will use the following programs to assist farmers:

— The Market Facilitation Program, authorized under The Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act and administered by Farm Service Agency, will provide payments incrementally to producers of soybeans, sorghum, corn, wheat, cotton, dairy and hogs.

— Additionally, USDA will use CCC Charter Act and other authorities to implement a Food Purchase and Distribution Program through the Agricultural Marketing Service to purchase unexpected surplus of affected commodities such as fruits, nuts, rice, legumes, beef, pork and milk for distribution to food banks and other nutrition programs.

— Finally, the CCC will use its Charter Act authority for a Trade Promotion Program administered by the Foreign Agriculture Service in conjunction with the private sector to assist in developing new export markets for our farm products.

The announcement of federal aid was welcomed by the California Farm Bureau, however, the organization that represents nearly 40,000 of the state’s farmers and ranchers would prefer an end to the costly tariff war.

“Because our state leads the nation in agricultural exports, California has a lot at stake in assuring fair trade of farm products,” said CFBF President Jamie Johansson. “We appreciate how USDA has worked to assemble this package quickly at a time of market uncertainty for farmers and ranchers. We hope these food purchases will provide some immediate relief to farmers and ranchers affected by trade disputes. Investing these purchases back into communities through food banks will be helpful in more ways than one.”

He said the package promises short-term relief, but that long-term resolution to the trade disputes remains urgent.

“Ultimately, farmers and ranchers want what we have always wanted: to trade on a fair basis with customers around the world who want to buy our products,” Johansson said. “We will continue to urge the administration and our congressional delegation to resolve the trade disputes as quickly as possible.”

On March 8, the Trump administration announced global steel and aluminum tariffs to protect U.S. producers, exempting many nations – but not China. The country fired back at America by levying 12 to 25 percent tariffs on $3 billion worth of American goods, including scrap aluminum, frozen pork, dried fruits, nuts and wine.

The tariffs greatly impact California’s almond, walnut, pork, wine, cherry and many other commodities, increasing the cost of exportation, depressing the prices of farm futures and harming trade relationships that have taken decades to develop. California exported more than $2 billion in agricultural products to China in 2016-17.