President Donald Trump’s administration is once again working on a short-term trade relief package for farmers and ranchers who have been hurt by retaliatory tariffs.
Here are three things to know:
1. Details about the deal continue to remain unclear, but Trump, in a tweet earlier this month, promised they would take the “highest year, the biggest purchase that China has ever made with our farmers, which is about $15 billion, and do something reciprocal to our farmers, so our farmers can do well.”
North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven, chairman of the Agriculture Appropriations Committee, has been among lawmakers urging the administration to do more for farmers hurt by the trade war.
“We worked to provide the authority necessary to use tariff revenue to provide agriculture aid, since our ag industry has been targeted by retaliatory tariffs,” Hoeven said. ”At the same time, supporting our agriculture industry will send a clear message to China that the U.S. is going to do what it takes to get better trade deals.”
2. A spokesman for the USDA on Wednesday promised that more information will be forthcoming soon, but in the meantime stressed that the agency is designing the program to avoid skewing planting decisions.
“Farmers should continue to make their planting and production decisions with the current market signals in mind, rather than some expectation of what a farming support program might or might not look like based on inaccurate media stories,” a statement from the federal agency read. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, has urged USDA to use historic yields of crops per acre to ensure decisions continue to be based on market signals.
3. The USDA’s statement appears to be directed at a Bloomberg article, which, citing an inside source, said USDA would be paying farmrers $2 a bushel for soybeans, 63 cents a bushelf or wheat, 4 cents a bushel for corn. Under last year’s market facilitation program, farmers received $1.65 a bushel for soybeans, 14 cents a bushel for wheat and 1 cent a bushel for corn, so those rates would be higher than the last time. Nine different commodities received payment under that program, but soybenas got the majority of funds at three-fourths.