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President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, Nov. 26, 2018. Bloomberg photo by Andrew Harrer

President Trump announces second trade aid payment for farmers

WASHINGTON — The nation’s farmers will be receiving a second trade aid payment under USDA’s Market Facilitation Program. President Donald Trump made the announcement on Dec. 17, giving farmers an early Christmas present.  

Soybean farmers were pleased the president delivered the trade aid he promised, since there was some question about whether the payments would be made with the Office of Management and Budget concerned about the cost.

John Horter, president of the South Dakota Soybean Association who farms near Andover, S.D., said the assistance is welcomed. “Those are very important you know. A lot of guys in my area, they stored their beans hoping for a better price so you know they're going to need the extra income,” he said.  

Soybean farmers who apply under MFP by January 15 and who have been eligible to receive payments on half of their 2018 production will now get a payment of $1.65 per bushel on their entire harvested crop. The total of both payments is estimated at $7.3 million for United States soybean farmers.  

American Soybean Association Board Director Kevin Scott said while they would rather get their income from the market, the payment will help offset the drop in prices since China cut off U.S. soybean exports as part of the ongoing trade war.    

The Valley Springs, S.D., farmer said it is a good thing for farmers.

“Our market is down considerably this year and this sure makes our cash flow look a little better.”  He said adding $1.65 on top of current soybean prices should help many farmers break even or profit, especially since most had above average yields. “We’re looking pretty whole and that certainly didn’t look like it was going to be the reality earlier in the year.”  

Scott said they’re also encouraged with the initial purchases China has made since the cease fire between the U.S. and China after the G20 Summit. He hopes it is a sign the trade war could be turning the corner and the result will be a long-term trade agreement before the March 1 imposed deadline.   

Pork producers were also hit hard by the trade war and will receive a payment of $8 per hog.  Craig Andersen, South Dakota Pork Producers Council vice president, said they were glad the administration realized they have been hurt by the tariffs, but it’s only a band aid.

“When you look at how much we lost out of it, it isn’t a great big amount of money,” he said. “However, it’s going to help pay some bills and help with cash flow a little bit.”  

Not all farm groups were as pleased with the trade aid. The National Corn Growers Association President Lynn Chrisp said the second round of payments provide virtually no relief.

“One cent per bushel is woefully inadequate to even begin to cover the losses,” he said. NCGA figures indicate corn farmers have suffered an average 44 cents per bushel loss since tariffs were first announced.  

Total payments for other commodities include: 14 cents per bushel on wheat and 14 cents per hundredweight on milk. MFP payments are limited to a combined $125,000 for corn, cotton, sorghum, soybeans and wheat per person or legal entity. They are also limited to a combined $125,000 for dairy and hog producers.