U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced on July 24th that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will spend $12 billion to aid American farmers who are suffering from the tariffs.
The program will provide payments directly to the producers of soybeans, sorghum, corn, wheat, cotton, dairy, and hogs. Additionally, USDA will implement a Food Purchase and Distribution Program to purchase unexpectedly affected commodities such as fruits, nuts, rice, beans, beef, pork and milk for distribution to the poor. This support will help farmers manage disordered market, handle surplus commodities, and expand and develop new markets at home and abroad. It is unprecedented that American Administration compensates farmers directly on such large-scale retaliatory tariffs.
The mid-term election is approaching, and the $12 billion-support is seen as Trump’s rescue of the “votes”. But it seems that the local farmers do not appreciate it. Farmers generally believe that this is only a short-term method. “I mean, I understand they’re trying to help us. I get that. But it’s not a long-term fix. It’s a pacifier, so to speak,” Illinois soybean farmer Dave Kestel said. “I’d rather not have it.”
The White House imposes tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. China has retaliated against tariffs on soybeans, meat, and various agricultural products. Mexico, Canada and the European Union have also taken measures for agricultural products and other U.S. exports. “A smart leader” has noticed his mistakes and used emergency administrative power to end destructive policies. This is obviously a short-term solution that will give Trump time to develop a long-term trade policy.
On the contrary, this plan does not solve any problems that American agriculture is currently facing. In the face of confusing situations, farmers cannot develop planting or trade plans, and non-agricultural industries are still losing money. Not to mention that all U.S. consumers are watching the price increase of various items.
Don’t forget that it is a short-term solution to deal with maybe a long-term problem. The program is designed to deal with the current crop year and is currently not intended to extend it. In the later stages, even if tariffs are removed and the market will be restored, the damage is going to last far beyond the current crop year and may be permanent. Foreign markets have been carefully developed and based on relationships. Once lost, they cannot be restored simply by flicking the switch and removing the tariff.
And the farmers worried that the USDA did not announce the details of the subsidy. USDA said it plans to launch some information on the American Labor Day, which will begin paying after the fall harvest.