Hoeven: USDA Provides First Half of Trade Assistance

Senator Continues to Press to Get Better Trade Agreements in Place As Soon As Possible

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee and a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and the farm bill conference committee, released the following statement after the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) rolled out the first half of its trade assistance to aid producers while the Administration works to negotiate better trade deals for the nation. This follows an announcement from the administration that the U.S. and Mexico have reached a preliminary agreement on central aspects of a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiation.

USDA announced the first half of the assistance program, which includes three parts: 

  • Market Facilitation Program – Producers will be eligible to receive payments up to $125,000 aggregate. The payments are based on actual 2018 production. Producers can sign up for the program at their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office.
  • Food Purchase and Distribution Program – Surplus commodities, including edible beans, potatoes and pulse crops, will be purchased for distribution to food programs and food banks. 
  • Ag Trade Promotion – The program will work with the private sector to develop new trade markets.

The assistance is based on the USDA’s trade retaliation models and the estimated impact of retaliation on each of the commodities. The remaining half of the program will be announced later and adjustments will be made based upon actual losses.

“While we continue pressing the Administration to get better trade deals in place as soon as possible, we appreciate USDA’s work to get this assistance to farmers in a timely manner,” said Hoeven. “USDA today rolled out this first half of trade assistance and there are clearly areas that will help our producers, including providing $1.65 per bushel for soybeans and buying surplus commodities like potatoes, edible beans and pulse crops. For the remaining half of the program, USDA needs to take a closer look at the corn model to determine a more realistic impact to producers. I’ve also asked the Secretary to look at mitigating the impact of increased basis. Our producers want continued access to important international markets, which is why we welcome today’s news on the progress made with Mexico on the NAFTA negotiations. We are continuing to push the administration to get better, more fair trade deals in place as soon as possible for our farmers and ranchers.”