USDA trade mitigation plan falls “substantially short”, says Western Growers CEO

August 28 , 2018

Western Growers CEO Tom Nassif

The chief of farming organization Western Growers has criticized the USDA’s trade mitigation plan released yesterday, saying it would not make up for the lost trade revenues and market shares.

The USDA will authorize up to US$12 billion in programs, with around US$1.2 billion set aside for the Food Purchase and Distribution Program which includes fruits, vegetables and nuts.

“We are still analyzing the details of this plan, but at first glance it appears USDA’s mitigation efforts will fall substantially short of making fruit, vegetable and tree nut farmers whole for the damages they have incurred, and will continue to incur, as a result of the trade war with China,” said CEO Tom Nassif.

“Even so, our fresh produce growers never expected the mitigation plan to fully make up for lost trade revenues and market shares, which is why we submitted a series of solutions the administration could adopt to ease the burdens of its trade policies on the industry.”

He added that while Western Growers is pleased with the USDA’s “creative approach” to targeting aid to exporters, it is disappointed that many of its other  ideas are not reflected in the mitigation plan.

“According to a study released by U.C. Davis economists, the direct trade losses for U.S. fruit, vegetable and tree nuts growers conservatively top $2.6 billion. When the price impacts on the domestic market are considered, the magnitude of damage exceeds $3.3 billion.

“These figures only represent the immediate consequences; the longer term effects will be much more catastrophic, and potentially permanent. While our fresh produce is the highest quality in the world, farmers in competing countries can and will fill the vacuum created by the trade war. Once China and other export markets find replacement suppliers, it will be extremely difficult to dislodge them.

“Time is of the essence, and only one outcome will preserve our family farms: a rapid and successful conclusion of our trade conflicts and the restoration of commerce between American farmers and buyers across the globe.”

 

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