In this file:
· Nebraska, Iowa farmers waiting to see how much assistance checks will offset losses
· Trump farm bailout checks coming to Wisconsin farmers vary from thousands to a few dollars
Nebraska, Iowa farmers waiting to see how much assistance checks will offset losses
By Joseph Morton, World-Herald Bureau
via Neighbor Newspapers (GA) - Nov 28, 2018
This article originally ran on omaha.com.
WASHINGTON — Checks are starting to trickle out from the Trump administration program aimed at helping farmers hurt by the ongoing trade disruptions.
But many Iowa and Nebraska producers are waiting to see just how big those checks will be and how much they will offset their significant losses.
“What good is it really going to do? I’m not sure,” said Gary Langbein, who grows corn and soybeans in northwest Iowa and is waiting for a payment. “It might pay for my commercial storage and that’s it. It might not do anything for my bottom line except pay for the storage.”
Langbein uses his own storage for his corn crop and typically sells his soybeans right out of the field. But with soybean prices plummeting this year, he’s holding onto that harvest in the hope of a market rebound — meaning he has to pay to store it in the meantime.
To help ends meet, he’s taken a job performing light mechanical work at a car dealership in nearby Sac City.
“Once the tariffs kind of took over, the markets just fell out of bed,” Langbein said. “So, yeah, it’s not good.”
Trade disruptions have hit the farm sector hard, particularly crops such as soybeans that are highly dependent on robust purchases by China.
Administration officials have insisted that the short-term pain will be worth it in the end, with everyone coming out ahead after they’ve negotiated better trade deals.
In the interim, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has dusted off Depression-era authorities to implement a $12 billion package to mitigate the damage to farmers.
Their approach includes direct payments to eligible producers as well as government purchases of surplus commodities that are then used in nutrition assistance programs.
Langbein applied for one of those soybean payments and expects to see his first check in the next week.
“The payments might be really substantial, they might just cover my costs of storage,” Langbein said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. You don’t know what to do.”
Nebraskan Keith Dittrich is also waiting to see what comes from his farm’s application. His operation includes partially irrigated acres of corn and soybeans near Tilden, Nebraska.
“We’re taking a heck of a hit on soybeans right now,” Dittrich said...
... Al Juhnke, executive director of the Nebraska Pork Producers Association, said his producers have been applying for and receiving checks through the USDA program.
“From what I can tell, it’s going smoothly from our end,” Juhnke said.
Still, the bigger help for the pork sector, he said, is likely to be the program’s government purchase of pork products — about $550 million worth.
“That large of a purchase will indeed affect the prices in the market and give us a boost,” Juhnke said.
One wild card is a bout of African swine fever affecting China’s domestic pork industry. That could further depress soybean prices, as it means less demand for that crop.
But Juhnke suggested that a shortage of domestic pork supplies also could help move China to make a deal.
Trump officials say talks are ongoing...
Trump farm bailout checks coming to Wisconsin farmers vary from thousands to a few dollars
Rick Barrett and Andrew Mollica, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI)
Nov. 28, 2018
About $10 million in payments are on their way to Wisconsin farmers from President Donald Trump’s farm bailout program, with 11 farms getting more than $50,000 each, 237 less than $100, and a few thousand farms somewhere in between those amounts.
U.S. Department of Agriculture data, obtained by the Environmental Working Group, in Washington, D.C., shows the average payment for Wisconsin farmers in the federal Market Facilitation program was $2,145.
The program was designed to help U.S. dairy, pork, soybean, corn and other farmers who’ve seen prices tumble as a result of Trump’s trade battles with Canada, Mexico, China and other countries.
The Environmental Working Group maintains an extensive database of Agriculture Department records and has tracked farm subsidies for many years.
The organization, through a federal open records request, said it received information on 87,704 farm bailout payments, nationwide, totaling $356 million.
It’s a fraction of the $4.7 billion going to U.S. farmers in the first round of payments, but it provides a snapshot of how the money will be distributed under the Trump administration.
The farm bailout program fails to help “the farmers most threatened” by the president’s escalating trade war, according to the Environmental Working Group.
The group also found that the top 10 percent of bailout recipients have received 68 percent of all of the money. And 1,000 city residents, including 85 in Milwaukee, have gotten checks because they have some ownership interest in a farm.
“These numbers match trends EWG has been tracking for years, which indicate that federal farm subsidies tend to benefit the largest, most financially secure farmers — or those who have a financial interest in a farm but may never set foot on it, let alone drive a tractor,” said Sarah Graddy, an Environmental Working Group spokeswoman.
Farmers want opportunity, not aid payments ...
Farm struggles as pork markets collapse
Maize N Bacon Inc., a Sauk City hog farm, was third on the Wisconsin list with a $76,608 payment.
That money will help the farm endure some of the lowest pork prices in decades, said owner Jack Wyttenbach.
“It’s been a nightmare. The prices we’ve been getting for hogs have been lower than they were 30 years ago,” he said.
Some of the largest markets for U.S. pork, including Mexico and China, have dried up under retaliatory tariffs that followed Trump’s tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum.
Wyttenbach said his farm, which sends about 35,000 hogs a year to market, has struggled.
“We’ve had to borrow quite a bit of extra money just to keep our bills paid,” he said.
His farm has about $4 million in annual expenses, so the $76,608 from USDA won’t go very far.
But it’s still appreciated, Wyttenbach said, and he supports Trump’s efforts to resolve foreign trade imbalances.
The president “fights fire with fire, so to speak,” Wyttenbach said.
$725 aid payment and a $36,000 loss ...