May 23, 2019
The news from U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue of trade mitigation including, most importantly to soy, Market Facilitation Program (MFP) payments and Agricultural Trade Promotion (ATP) program funding, is news welcomed by soy growers who have suffered from the ongoing ill effects of tariffs.
“We recognize and are thankful that these funds will help offset the persisting damage from tariffs, as well as enable new market development through ATP,” said Davie Stephens, president of the American Soybean Association (ASA) and soybean grower from Clinton, Ky.
Stephens reiterated, however, that the soybean industry needs open trade access, saying, “The key word from today’s announcement is “facilitation”: Trade assistance will only facilitate soy growers’ ability to farm, not make their losses whole or tariff woes disappear long term. Trade assistance will only help in the short term.”
The 2019 MFP program under the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) Charter Act and administered by Farm Service Agency (FSA) will provide $14.5 billion in payments to producers, among them soy growers. Payments this year, however, will be based not on individual crops as in the past, rather on county-specific rates determined by, “long term distortion from tariff damage,” according to USDA. That single-county rate will be multiplied by a farm’s total planted acreage for all eligible crops to determine payment so that planting decisions are not skewed, and eligible plantings cannot exceed total 2018 plantings. The first payments will begin in late July or early August after Farm Service Agency (FSA) crop reporting is completed July 15th. Second and third payments will be made in November and early January if conditions warrant, USDA has reported.
An additional $100 million will be issued through the ATP to assist in developing new export markets on behalf of producers, along with Food Purchase and Distribution Program (FPDP) relief for other commodities.
ASA appreciates the Administration’s effort to bridge the gap during this difficult time. However, a second round of financial support to offset farm losses is only a partial and temporary solution, and not a permanent solution for soy growers who have lost their number one export market since tariffs were implemented by the U.S. and then China in July, 2019.