USDA announces details of $16B relief package for farmers

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USDA announces details of $16B relief package for farmers

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced Thursday further details of the US$16 billion relief package President Trump had promised farmers who have been hurt by his administration's escalating trade war with China and severe weather.

The aid - provided by the Market Facilitation Program (MFP) and Food Purchase and Distribution Program (FPDP) - is in line with the estimated financial loss agricultural producers have suffered due to the retaliatory tariffs imposed on U.S. products by China, says the USDA.

Sign-ups for aid start July 29 and end Dec. 6, with payments set to begin next month. The program, which was announced in May, will last through the fall and winter if the Trump administration has not resolved the trade conflict, reports CNBC.

County payment rates range from US$15 to US$150 per acre, depending on the impact of unjustified trade retaliation in that county, says the USDA.

It explains that it will base payments on factors such as specific crops and where farmers are located.

Growers of speciality, non-specialty crops eligible

Producers of a number of specialty and non-specialty crops are eligible to receive payments. Almonds, cranberries, fresh grapes, fresh cherries, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts are just a few of the covered commodities.

To be eligible for the relief package payments, the department comments that applicants must prove one of two things. The first is that they have an average adjusted gross income for 2014, 2015, and 2016 of less than US$900,000. The second is that they derive at least 75% of their adjusted gross income from farming.

It specifies that producers also must comply with the provisions of the “Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation” regulations. Many farmers also know these the conservation compliance provisions.

Finally, they need to show they have a farm number with USDA's Farm Service Agency.

On Thursday, Perdue defended sending aid to the agriculture sector as opposed to other industries damaged by Trump's trade policies.

“I think it’s very clear that our farmers this year when these talks with China did not proceed as we had hoped, again continued to be affected by tariff damages; and I think it’s entirely justifiable,” CNBC quoted Perdue telling reporters.

The Trump administration has “no plans” for a 2020 aid program, he commented.

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