Farmers Worry Government Bailouts Won't Be Enough
WASHINGTON, DC - As farmers prepare for their first round of government checks as part of a billion-dollar bailout, concerns grow that these checks might not be enough to supplement their income. Farmers are feeling the impact of the Trump administration’s dispute with China and other countries; China has hit back hard with tariffs of its own in response to tariffs imposed by the U.S.
The Trump administration is providing up to $12 billion in emergency relief funds for American farmers, with roughly $6 billion in the first round. The three-pronged plan includes $4.7 billion in payments to corn, cotton, soybean, dairy, pork, and sorghum farmers, according to a report from The Associated Press. The rest is for developing new foreign markets for American-grown commodities and purchasing more than two dozen select products, including certain fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, meat, and dairy.
But as farmers worry that these payouts won’t be enough, some speculate that disappointing aid outcomes might affect how these farmers vote in the upcoming midterms.
"It's pretty obvious that the rural agriculture communities helped elect this administration, but the way things are going I believe farmers are going to have to vote with their checkbook when it comes time," said Kevin Skunes, a corn and soybean grower from Arthur, North Dakota and President of the National Corn Growers Association.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced last month that soybean growers will get the largest checks, at $1.65 per bushel for a total of $3.6 billion. However, many farmers were left confused as to how these calculations were made.
Rob Johnansson, the Agriculture Department’s Chief Economist, explained to The Associated Press that the USDA took into account a number of factors “including the share of production that is exported and the value of trade directly affected by the retaliatory tariffs. The level of damage is not the same for each commodity.”
Since then, the USDA has released a detailed analysis of how the department made its calculations, but the breakdown stunned farmers who say the payments are uneven and worry they won’t be able to keep their farms going.
In a recent C-SPAN interview, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said he understands growers' frustrations.
"Farmers always live in unpredictable times," he said. "They're very resilient, but obviously the longer trade issues go on the longer it bears on them regarding what is the future."
Perdue said checks could start going out as soon as the end of September for crops that have already been harvested and payouts are based on yield.
Will these bailout checks be enough to keep farmers' heads above water? AndNowUKnow will continue to report the latest developments.