U.S. Department of Agricultural officials held a press call on Tuesday to provide comment on President Trump’s recently announced $12 billion trade aid package, as it’s come to be known. In his opening remarks on the call, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue characterized the President’s aid plan as a “firm statement that other nations cannot bully our agricultural producers to force the United States to cave in.” IL Corn joins other farm organizations in urging the President to seek a quick resolution to the ongoing trade disputes so that tariffs may be repealed. IL Corn urges the Administration to look at additional options to improve farm profitability that come with zero budgetary impact, including but not limited to, 1) a conclusion to the NAFTA renegotiations, 2) a fulfillment of the President’s promised RVP waiver for all ethanol blends above E10, and 3) an update of the EPA’s lifecycle analysis of corn-based ethanol which would remove an arbitrary trade barrier to ethanol export markets to China and Japan.
Secretary Perdue announced that the administration is authorizing USDA to put in place three programs amounting in a value of up to $12 billion, a value in direct relation to the administration’s analysis of the retaliatory tariffs that have impacted farmers. The administration insists that the trade damaging retaliatory tariffs are illegal. “The correct action from other nations (in response to U.S. tariffs) would be to stop their bad behavior, not retaliate with illegal tariffs,” said Perdue.
“This is a short-term solution that will give President Trump and his administration time to work on long-term trade deals that benefit agriculture and all sectors of the American economy,” Perdue explained.
There will be an application process for farmers interested in seeking the trade aid that will be administered through the USDA Farm Service Agency local county offices. Of note, the estimated $12 billion in budgetary assistance will be split among three different programs in amounts yet to be determined. Any direct-to-farmer assistance is not limited to only row crops and will include many diverse commodities.
When pressed on the issue of the agricultural community’s preference for market opportunities around the world rather than trade aid packages, USDA’s Trade Counsel to the Secretary, Jason Hafemeister, said, “The Administration’s action has brought new leverage to the table and we have seen countries (giving) more attention than ever in addressing our trade concerns. That’s certainly the objective here: reform in foreign country policies. We think this is a helpful tool for that.”