Announced by Senator Perdue, the President has authorised the USDA to provide up to US$16bn in programs, which is in line with the estimated impacts of “unjustified retaliatory tariffs on US agricultural goods and other trade disruptions”.
Secretary Perdue said: “The plan we are announcing today ensures farmers do not bear the brunt of unfair retaliatory tariffs imposed by China and other trading partners.”
The National Farmers Union said the support package was just a “short-term fix”.
NFU president Roger Johnson said: “Family farmers and ranchers have been grappling with low commodity prices and excess production for many years now, and the trade war with China and other major trading partners has compounded both problems. We appreciate USDA’s work to mitigate family farmers’ losses as a result of these trade disputes. However, while this trade aid package is an improvement over last year’s Market Facilitation Program, by definition it fails to provide predictable, consistent and adequate relief across American agriculture.
“Ultimately, this package is only a short-term fix for a very long-term problem. Farmers rely on markets to make a living. Our ongoing trade wars have destroyed our reputation as a reliable supplier and have left family farmers with swelling grain stores and empty pockets. The very least we can do is provide our country’s struggling food producers with the certainty of a longer-term plan that also addresses the persistent and pernicious problem of oversupply.”
North American Meat Institute President and CEO Julie Anna Potts said that although the support is “appreciated”, she stressed that it was more important to keep trade links.
“According to a US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) analysis, losses to the US pork industry from tariffs imposed by China could reach $9.08 per head or $1.14 billion annually. The timing of these tariffs is especially bad as China’s domestic pork industry battles a deadly animal disease known as African Swine Fever, and pork imports boom as a result. Due to the tariffs, the US pork industry loses out on significant gains in that market.
“In the US beef sector, USMEF estimates that export losses in China this year will likely exceed $430 million or $15.93 per head due to the tariffs.
“Once foreign markets are lost to competitors, regaining them is extraordinarily difficult. It is critical to continue ongoing trade negotiations with China, to approve the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and to further talks with Japan. Now is the time to remove barriers to trade before permanent damage is done to our vibrant agricultural economy and the people who drive it.”