Following the recent escalation of trade tensions between China and the United States that will likely exacerbate the erosion of agricultural export markets and further depress commodity prices, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is expected to announce a trade aid package to support struggling family farmers and ranchers.
In a letter sent to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, National Farmers Union, which represents 200,000 family farmers and ranchers and rural residents across the country, provided recommendations for how best to “craft a package that will adequately address the broad, long-term impacts to all of American agriculture.”
In anticipation of the agency’s announcement, NFU President Roger Johnson said, “Family farmers and ranchers have borne the brunt of the trade war with China, which has intentionally targeted American agricultural products with retaliatory tariffs. We appreciate the administration’s recent efforts to relieve the immense economic pressure those in the agriculture industry are feeling as a result.
“Though China’s tariffs have specifically targeted soybeans, pork, and sorghum, many other commodities have been impacted, both directly and indirectly. We ask that trade assistance be offered to producers of all affected commodities, and that payment rates be based on historical production. In addition, we recommend that the USDA address the growing problem of oversupply by providing farmers with incentives to reduce overall production.
“The ever-worsening financial challenges being forced on family farmers and ranchers cannot be overstated. We urge the USDA to ensure that this assistance package provides fair and equitable relief to all family farmers impacted by disruptions in international markets.”
Although being asked to produce less may seem like an odd request, desperate times call for desperate measures.