In this file:


·         The government has earmarked billions to help farmers. There will be winners and losers.

·         Trump discusses $16B in direct subsidies to farmers at the White House event

·         Trump: COVID-19 aid signups begin May 26

·         Congressman King Explains Draft Legislation Aimed At Providing Monetary Support To Pork Producers



The government has earmarked billions to help farmers. There will be winners and losers.

Quick-fix programs to get billions to farmers, like the trade-war bailouts and PPP, have come with complications, critics say.


By Kit Ramgopal, NBC News

May 19, 2020


U.S. farmers have been battered in recent years by the trade war with China and extreme weather. They hoped 2020 would be an improvement. Then came a pandemic.


The coronavirus shuttered restaurants and schools and sickened meat plant workers. As demand for some goods has plunged and commodity prices have tumbled, farmers are dumping milk and euthanizing pigs and chickens. Industry estimates of agricultural losses for the year had risen to $40 billion by early May, according to a recent Congressional Research Service report.


The federal government has earmarked $36 billion to help U.S. agriculture cope with losses caused by COVID-19, and over half the farmers in a recent national survey said they meant to apply for some relief. On Tuesday, the Department of Agriculture announced the details of the largest slice yet, a $19 billion bailout called the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program.


Individual farmers who have suffered price declines of five percent or more due to market disruptions between mid-January and mid-April will get $16 billion of the money, the USDA said. Applications open in a week, and payments will be capped at $250,000 per person or entity, though corporations, LLCs and limited partnerships may qualify for exceptions. Fifty-eight specific commodities — from barley to lamb to sunflowers — are eligible, though USDA says more could be added later.


Farmers have been waiting to learn which crops are covered and how payments will be calculated for over a month — an eon for dying businesses, but an instant by policymaking standards. USDA’s answer is necessarily complicated; the formula differs across sectors, mixing and multiplying metrics like losses, inventory, and 2019 production value, among others.


“No other president’s done this,” said President Donald Trump in remarks about the program on Tuesday. ”I’ll tell you, you could go back to Abraham Lincoln, there’s no president that’s treated the farmers like Trump...These payments will compensate farmers for losses related to the global pandemic, caused by China.”


The initiative comes on the heels of other recent “ad hoc” aid aimed at farmers — most notably, the two trade war bailouts, worth a total of $28 billion, and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) COVID-19 relief loans. But these quick-fix programs to get cash to farmers have tended to come with complications, critics say.


PPP logistics proved confusing and difficult for some farmers, and the trade war package has been criticized for overcompensating big farms and politically valuable constituencies. There will be winners and losers this time as well, experts say, as farmers compete for a slice of a pie that will never be big enough.


“A key challenge in coronavirus aid is that, so far, the amount of money is not near enough to cover losses that have happened to agriculture,” Nathan Hendricks, an agricultural economist at Kansas State University, said. “There’s going to be a lot more competing when there’s really limited dollars.”


Behind the scenes, members of Congress and lobbyists for interest groups have been vying for their say on how the money is spent. At least 170 organizations and companies have lobbied the Agriculture Department on matters concerning COVID-19, according to the Senate's Lobbying Disclosure Act Database. In letters to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, requests went beyond just the food supply chain; hay and straw sales are suffering due to racetrack closures, cotton and wool are down with the retail market, and decreased travel and gasoline demand reportedly helped put half of ethanol plants offline. Not everyone will be happy with Tuesday’s announcement; some commodities named as needing help — from catfish to craft beer, chicken to sod — are not eligible for direct payments in USDA’s initial list.


“Farmers, just like everybody else, are frustrated by watching markets disappear, watching the economy spiral,” Veronica Nigh, an economist at the American Farm Bureau Federation, said. “They’re aware USDA doesn’t have enough money at their discretion to make them whole.”


The same thing happened during Trump’s trade war bailouts, which have since been subject to bipartisan criticism for benefitting foreign companies and were investigated by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. In a separate review, USDA’s inspector general found the program used a “reasonable methodology” that “was applied consistently across commodities.”


Still, most of the program’s funds found their way to the largest and most profitable farms, the Environmental Working Group found. Researchers have also calculated that corn and soybean producers disproportionately benefited in 2018, and that cotton and sorghum producers got payments that were substantially higher than the trade war’s actual price damage in 2019. And while payment rate formulas were public, an NBC News Investigation found that there was no ‘specific’ or ‘exact’ formula in determining which crops were deemed eligible for direct payments — why cranberries got subsidies, and wild blueberries did not, for example.


“One would think we could learn something from the trade war programs,” said Joseph Janzen, an agricultural economist at Kansas State University who conducted research on the 2019 bailout. “It was not necessarily equitable across commodities and regions. If we make policy using the same process, it seems likely that there will be issues of equity again.”


In a statement to NBC News, USDA said it has been transparent about how it formulated payment rates for the trade war bailout, noting it used a methodology often employed in World Trade Organization arbitrations.


“The fact of the matter is that USDA has provided necessary funding to help farmers who have been impacted by unjustified retaliatory tariffs,” a USDA spokesperson said in a statement. “While criticism is easy to come up with, we welcome constructive feedback from any member of Congress with recommendations as to how the program could be better administered.”


The coronavirus package may be even more logistically daunting than its trade war predecessors, experts say...


more, including links



Trump discusses $16B in direct subsidies to farmers at the White House event


By: Alex Hider, KXLF Butte (MT)

May 19, 2020


President Donald Trump hosted ranchers and farmers at the White House on Tuesday and discussed the nation's food supply amid the pandemic.


Trump outlined his administration's plans to support farmers, whose supply chain has been greatly disrupted by the novel coronavirus. On Tuesday, Trump said more than $16 billion in direct subsidies would be presented to farmers. He also promised that farmers would receive funds within a week of filling out an application.


During his presentation, Trump also said that farmers should "look into terminating trade deals" that involved foreign countries sending cattle into the United States.


When asked specifically about such deals, Trump said they are unnecessary, saying that America's supply of cattle was more than adequate.


Ivanka Trump, a senior advisor to the president, also discussed the administration's Farmers to Families Food Box Program, which purchases produce, meat and dairy from farmers and provides it directly to local distribution centers and given to those in need.


Because food demand has shifted away from restaurants, school cafeterias, and large commercial contracts amid the pandemic, farmers have been forced to destroy large amounts of fresh produce.


Dairy farmers have been forced to dump thousands of gallons of milk, as storage facilities run out of space. Pig farmers...


more, including video report [29:58 min.]



Trump: COVID-19 aid signups begin May 26

President Trump touts farmer COVID-19 aid program during White House event Tuesday morning.


Jacqui Fatka, Feedstuffs

May 19, 2020


During a White House event Tuesday morning, President Donald Trump was joined by Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, daughter Ivanka Trump and farmers to discuss the latest efforts to offer a lifeline to farmers as well as families in need of food during the current coronavirus pandemic.


Beginning May 26, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, through the Farm Service Agency (FSA), will be accepting applications from agricultural producers who have suffered losses. Trump said checks will be issued within a week of receiving applications.


Farmers and ranchers will receive direct support, drawn from two possible funding sources. The first source of funding is $9.5 billion in appropriated funding provided in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief & Economic Stability (CARES) Act to compensate farmers for losses due to price declines that occurred between mid-January 2020 and mid-April 2020 and provides support for specialty crops for product that had been shipped from the farm between the same time period but subsequently spoiled due to loss of marketing channels. The second funding source uses the Commodity Credit Corp. Charter Act to compensate producers for $6.5 billion in losses due to ongoing market disruptions.


Livestock eligible for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) include cattle, lambs, yearlings and hogs. The total payment will be calculated using the sum of the producer’s number of livestock sold between Jan. 15 and April 15, 2020, multiplied by the payment rates per head, and the highest inventory number of livestock between April 16 and May 14, 2020, multiplied by the payment rate per head.


For dairy, the total payment will be calculated based on a producer’s certification of milk production for the first quarter of calendar year 2020, multiplied by a national price decline during the same quarter. The second part of the payment is based a national adjustment to each producer’s production in the first quarter.


“America’s cattle producers have been hit very hard economically by this pandemic, so we’re pleased that this relief is one step closer to reaching the producers who need it,” National Cattlemen's Beef Assn. (NCBA) president Marty Smith said. “Still, this is just one step, and much more needs to be done to address the needs facing family cow/calf producers and stockers in the CFAP details that were released today. We will continue to push Capitol Hill for additional resources for cow/calf producers, backgrounders and all other segments of the industry who may not sufficiently benefit from the program in its current form.”


More information about the application process will be available at


Eliminating live beef imports ...


Producer support ...





Congressman King Explains Draft Legislation Aimed At Providing Monetary Support To Pork Producers


KCIM/CBC Online (IA)

May 20, 2020


Meat processing facilities across the state have seen the dramatic impact of COVID-19 with many reporting clusters of positive cases from workers. Fourth District Congressman, Steve King, says our region is no different. As this district is one that leads the nation in pork production, it is troubling to him to see livestock producers facing the back-up in processing that is costing them more than money. According to King, leaders foreshadowed the issues in meat processing plants early on in the pandemic


King says about six weeks ago, they calculated pork producers would be forced to euthanize one and a quarter million hogs.


Reality, he says, has far exceeded that initial estimate.


Unfortunately, King adds, we are seeing this with chickens and he believes it won’t be long before cattle producers face the same situation. He says he has drafted a piece of legislation to assist pork producers, but it has not yet been introduced.


King explains how the indemnity is calculated on a percentage basis...


more, including audio clips [5]