Economy

Trump’s Bailout for Farmers is Months Away

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

Depending on which crop you're growing, harvest season could begin as early as August, but Trump's bailout for farmers is still months away according to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.

Speaking to Reuters, Perdue says farmers will begin receiving cash money in October.

The aid plan, a response to retaliatory trade measures on U.S. farm exports, is intended only for the current crop cycle, he said. “It’s for the 2018 crop. We do not expect to do this over a period of time,” Perdue said. [...]

The aid will make use of a Great Depression-era program. Starting on Sept. 4 farmers can apply for help. They will be asked to provide data on their current crops.

“We expect the checks to go out in late September or October. As soon as they prove their yields,” Perdue said. “They will be based on actual production, not historical averages.”

While harvest season begins as early as August for some crops, others such as soybeans may not be harvested until November so it's not entirely clear what this means for soybean farmers. If this program is for the 2018 crop, will applications remain open until the end of the calendar year?

I don't necessarily buy the idea that this is only for the 2018 crop because there's currently no reason to think conditions will be any different next year.

Even if you're feeling generous enough to predict that Trump will eventually back away from his trade war with Canada, Mexico, and the European Union, that leaves China and China is the biggest market in the world for American agriculture. Or at least it was before Trump's trade war.

Trump recently imposed tariffs on over $30 billion in Chinese goods and he's currently planning to impose tariffs on as much or more than $400 billion in additional goods.

If the Chinese market is permanently closed off to American agriculture, bailouts could become the new normal. The only way to avoid a repeat of this process next year may be to plant entirely different crops and that appears to be what Perdue is suggesting.

“I think we’ll see more corn planted next year rather than soybeans. But that’s not for me to determine,” Perdue said.

“We want people to plant according to market signals rather than government programs,” he added.

Even if farmers plant corn instead of soybeans, it still comes back to who they're going to sell it to.

Agriculture is the only thing America produces more of than we consume. That's why exporting it is such a big deal.

  • fry1laurie

    Checks arriving in the mail, I’d say, late October, with a friendly reminder enclosed about which party gave them the money. A $12 billion taxpayer-funded poltical ad.

  • Aynwrong

    I’m old enough to remember when…

    “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what, All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what.”

  • muselet

    Yeah, there’s nothing like adding a big ol’ truckload of uncertainty to an uncertain situation affecting an industry that’s already rife with uncertainties.

    If I thought Donald Trump had the first clue how international trade works, I’d suggest he’s disrupting it on purpose (rather than on a whim, which seems far more likely).

    –alopecia

  • katanahamon

    Sooo..no oversight, no approval, no checks and balances, no debate, no solution to what’s causing the problem, just..Rump opens his mouth and we first lose billions on the tariffs, then pay off his voters with a bribe to keep voting stupid? Great plan.