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Some relief, but trade issues continue


Farmers got mixed news in July and August on trade issues that continue to plague the ag markets.

On July 25, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced details of a $16 billion package aimed at supporting American agricultural producers while the administration continues to work on free, fair, and reciprocal trade deals.

In May, President Trump directed Secretary Perdue to craft a relief strategy in line with the estimated impacts of unjustified retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agricultural goods and other trade disruptions. The Market Facilitation Program (MFP), Food Purchase and Distribution Program (FPDP), and Agricultural Trade Promotion Program (ATP), Perdue said, will assist agricultural producers while President Trump works to address long-standing market access barriers.

“China and other nations have not played by the rules for a long time, and President Trump is the first president to stand up to them and send a clear message that the United States will no longer tolerate unfair trade practices,” Perdue said. “The details we announced today ensure farmers will not stand alone while President Trump continues working to solidify better and stronger trade deals around the globe.”

Retaliatory tariffs and decades of non-tariff trade disruptions have curtailed U.S. exports to China and other nations. Trade damages and market distortions have impacted a host of U.S. commodities. USDA is using a variety of programs to support American farmers, ranchers, and producers.

MFP signup at local Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices began July 29 and will run through Friday, Dec. 6, 2019. Producers should contact their local FSA office for details. Payments will be made by FSA under the authority of the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) Charter Act to producers of qualified crops.

Additionally, CCC Charter Act authority will be used to implement up to $1.4 billion FPDP through the Agricultural Marketing Service to purchase surplus commodities affected by trade retaliation for distribution by the Food and Nutrition Service to food banks, schools, and other outlets serving low-income individuals.

On Aug. 1, President Trump announced via Twitter an additional tariff of 10 percent would be imposed on the remaining $300 billion of goods being imported into the U.S. from China. The new measures, he stated, would begin Sept. 1. These tariffs were on top of the $250 billion that are already subject to 25 percent tariffs. Most of the new products affected were consumer goods like electronics and phones.

On Aug. 5, the Chinese government retaliated, recommending that all state-run businesses suspend purchases of all U.S. agricultural products, a move that seemed aimed at hitting the president in rural areas that are important to his re-election efforts, Bloomberg News reported.

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