Soybean farmers stand to get the biggest share of nearly $4.7 billion in payments in the Market Facilitation Program, which also will provide payments to producers of corn, cotton, dairy, hog, grain sorghum and wheat starting Sept. 4. The USDA first unveiled the trade mitigation package on July 24 but at the time provided few details.
"We always knew that agriculture would be the tip of the spear if other nations decided to retaliate," said USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue in a conference call with reporters Monday. "We also knew the economic pressure was already there for farmers, even without these unfair trade tariffs."
Soybeans have been hard hit by Chinese tariffs and stand to get up to $3.6 billion in assistance under the Market Facilitation Program. Another $290 million will go to pork, about $277 million for cotton and $156 million for grain sorghum, as well as $127 million for dairy, $119 million for wheat and $96 million for corn.
According to Perdue, farmer payments the government will make under its relief plan "will be bifurcated so that we can monitor and factor in events," such as trade breakthroughs like the U.S. announced Monday with Mexico. "An announcement about further payments will be made in the coming months, if warranted," he added.
Some of the aid from the Trump plan is coming through the authority of the Commodity Credit Corp., a federal agency dating back to the Great Depression. The Market Facilitation Program, which was established under the CCC, will determine the payment rate to farmers of a commodity covered by looking at "the severity of the trade disruption and the period of adjustment to new trade patterns, based on each producer's actual production," the USDA said.
The market aid payments will be administered by the USDA's Farm Service Agency and are limited to farmers having an average adjusted gross income of less than $900,000 for the tax years 2014 through 2016. Payments also will be capped per person or legal enterprise at a combined $125,000.
The government's program to purchase up to $1.2 billion in certain commodities impacted by trade retaliation will be administered by the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service. USDA officials said they plan to spread purchases out over several months in response to orders placed by states for their various nutritional and feeding programs.
The USDA plans to make purchases of commodities over four different phases in the coming months, which allow for changes in growing conditions, product availability and market conditions, among other things. The government said the purchase program will include a variety of agricultural commodities, from pork and dairy to fresh fruit and nuts.
The government plans to purchase up to nearly $85 million in dairy products in the food purchase program and up to nearly $560 million in pork products. There's also plans to buy nearly $93 million in apples, about $55.6 million in oranges, as well as more than $100 million in various nuts.