In this file:
· Trump: COVID-19 aid signups begin May 26
· Trump Launches Coronavirus Aid to Agriculture, with a $750,000 Top Payment
· Trump discusses $16B in direct subsidies to farmers at the White House event
· The government has earmarked billions to help farmers. There will be winners and losers.
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 https://www.farmers.gov/cfap/livestock.
Eliminating live beef imports ...
Producer support ...
Trump Launches Coronavirus Aid to Agriculture, with a $750,000 Top Payment
You've Got to Sign Up to Pick it Up, to Get the Money," said Trump. "We'll Start Issuing Payments Within One Week of Receiving Your Application."
By Chuck Abbott, Successful Farming
Agriculture.com - 5/20/2020
The Trump administration modified its $16 billion coronavirus aid program for agriculture so it will be easier for farmers, particularly livestock producers and specialty crop growers who complained of inadequate support, to collect larger payments, to a maximum of $250,000 per person or $750,000 for corporate entities. Enrollment will begin on Tuesday, announced President Trump, with farm leaders joining him at the White House.
“You’ve got to sign up to pick it up, to get the money,” said Trump. “We’ll start issuing payments within one week of receiving your application.”
The cash payments are intended to offset the impact on farm income of the coronavirus pandemic, which has slashed market prices for most major commodities and stifled consumer demand. The FAPRI think tank estimated last month that farm income could plunge by 19 percent this year from levels expected before the virus pushed the United States toward economic recession.
Cattle and hog farmers, joined by allies in Congress, were among the most vocal in calling for the administration to alter its proposed limits of $125,000 per commodity and a total of $250,000 per farmer of entity. Thin profit margins require operators to produce large numbers of livestock or make huge investments in fruit and vegetable farms to make a living, they argued in seeking more generous rules. Most producers specialize in one type of livestock, so the effective limit would be $125,000, they said.
In the package unveiled by Trump, the payment limit is $250,000 per person for all eligible commodities and $750,000 for payments to limited partnerships, corporations and limited liability companies. Up to three shareholders in the corporate entities are eligible for payments of $250,000 each if they contribute at least 400 hours a year in management or labor. So long as operators make at least 75 percent of their adjusted gross income from agriculture, there is no income barrier to applicants.
“We listened to them. We adjusted the payment limit,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in a broadcast interview earlier this month. The USDA did not disclose the new standards until the White House announcement on Tuesday.
The USDA said it would make a first-round payment of 80 percent of the money a farmer is due, with the rest to be made later. The agency will have access to an additional $11 billion after it submits a June 30 financial statement on the Commodity Credit Corp, known as “USDA’s bank.” Perdue has said that he expects aid will be needed beyond the $16 billion. Enrollment runs through August 28.
“This assistance is a first step to getting farmers, and our customers, back on solid footing,” said Kevin Ross, president of the National Corn Growers Association. Farm and ranch groups issued similar statements, thanking the administration for the assistance while saying more needs to be done.
Many commodities qualify for aid — most prominently, corn, soybeans, Upland cotton, sorghum, cattle, hogs...
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.]
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