Trade

Trump’s Third Farm Bailout is Here

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

Just like most other Americans, farmers are suffering loses from the coronavirus as their contracts with school systems, restaurant chains, and other hospitality businesses evaporate.

To that end, Trump has directed the Department of Agriculture to distribute financial aid to farmers as quickly as possible in the third such bailout of the Trump era.

On Twitter, Trump also said he expects Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue “to use all of the funds and authorities at his disposal to make sure that our food supply is stable, strong, and safe.” [...]

Also on Twitter, Perdue said the USDA “is using all financial resources we have been given to develop a program that will include direct payments to farmers & ranchers hurt by COVID-19 & other procurement methods to help solidify the supply chain from producers to consumers.”

The American Farm Bureau Federation said last week that farmers need immediate help and it urged the USDA to make special direct payments to dairy and cotton producers, livestock farmers and cattle ranchers, among others.

I'm not going to say we shouldn't help farmers the same way we're helping everyone else during a pandemic, but I am going to point out that economic conditions were already far worse than they should have been because of Trump's ongoing trade war.

Like the rest of the economy, America's farms would have suffered losses from a global pandemic in any case, but Trump placed them in a precarious position that prompted two prior bailouts for the industry. Many small and mid-size family farms were already struggling because of Trump's protectionist trade policies and now his blown response to the pandemic may finally kill them. Perhaps literally.

It should be abundantly clear that fighting trade wars that ultimately benefit neither side is a luxury we cannot afford even during good times and it makes the entire country more vulnerable during bad times. We're going to spend even more to prop up industries that could have weathered more of the storm if Trump had not already fleeced them.

The hypothetical Biden administration must end Trump's trade war if we really want to claw our way out of recession in the next year. The ongoing trade war should be seen as an ongoing tax on economic recovery; a tax that cost businesses and consumers nearly $100 billion in the last year.

  • muselet

    I have sympathy for farmers. Farming is a tough gig, always has been and always will be. They got sucked into Donald Trump’s forever trade wars, and now are also suffering the economic consequences of a global pandemic combined with social isolation (which leads to, for example, much smaller restaurant-supplier contracts).

    This is where I would ordinarily snark that only those farmers who didn’t vote for Trump in 2016 should be eligible for assistance—this is what the others voted for—but I’m not going to do that.

    As long as the aid goes to small- to medium-sized farms, and not to large agribusiness concerns, I’m fine with farmers getting some help.

    If only Trump saw some electoral benefit to pouring money into, I don’t know, Covid-19 test kits and PPE and ventilators and …

    –alopecia

  • gescove

    Trump’s trade wars made no economic sense in the first place. He killed agricultural export markets that had taken years, decades, to build. Everything the Dotard in Chief touches withers and dies.