Farmers received billions of dollars to compensate for tariffs. Will that continue in 2020?


Beth Burger, Columbus Dispatch

via USA Today - Nov 21, 2019


COLUMBUS, Ohio – This is the time of year farmers plan for the upcoming season. As the trade impasse with China continues, farmers are set to receive a second payment from the Trump administration this week for the 2019 season to offset market losses.


It’s unclear whether aid for farmers will continue in 2020, but experts said more farmers are becoming financially dependent on the subsidies, and that affects how they decide to plant crops.


For example, farmers in Ohio were generally better off not planting this year than they were receiving “Trump bucks″ for crops they planted.


Trump bucks, officially known as market facilitation payments, began in 2018 as a way to offset farmers’ financial shortfalls caused by retaliatory Chinese tariffs.


The program was supposed to be a short-term solution until a trade deal was reached, but there’s a good chance that it will enter its third year – an election year – which could have larger political implications.


Farmers were eligible this year to receive money for not planting crops because of poor weather conditions.


Billions of dollars shelled out


In Ohio, $1.1 billion will be distributed to farmers for the market facilitation payments in 2018 and 2019. About 95% of Ohio farmers have participated in the program, said Ben Brown, assistant professor of professional practice in agricultural risk management at Ohio State University.


The state with the highest payout was Illinois – $2.6 billion across two years – followed by Iowa, at $2.3 billion.


The payments are determined at the county level based on the mixture of crops growing there.


Will the program stick around? ...


'We need to get back to supply and demand' ...