The Trump Administration has no plans in place for 2019 to give any more aid to farmers hurt by tariffs. Bloomberg says that’s based on assumptions that markets will recover even if the trade war with China keeps going. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue made that announcement last week. Back in July, the administration announced it would deliver $12 billion in aid to farmers hurt by the tit-for-tat tariff war with China.
Last month, farmers were able to apply for the first round of aid that totaled $4.7 billion. Perdue didn’t disclose when a second round of aid would be distributed. Perdue says, “The trade war impacted farmers after they made planting decisions for 2018. The market will equilibrate over a period of time.” He told farmers at a stop in Illinois last week that there is not an expected or anticipated market facilitation program for 2019. Perdue didn’t offer any guesses as to how much longer the trade war with China would continue, saying only that “the onus is on China.”
Grassley: No Trade Aid for Smithfield Foods
When it comes to just who is eligible for trade aid, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley said Smithfield Foods shouldn’t be one of the companies which are eligible help. Smithfield is owned by Chinese conglomerate WH Group. Grassley took to Twitter and says, “Smithfield seems to be in a ‘can’t-lose’ situation thanks to American taxpayers.” A spokesman for the Iowa Republican, who’s also a member of the Senate Ag Committee, says Grassley is looking into the matter.
Early last week, the Washington Post reported that Smithfield does qualify for trade aid assistance. The Post says the idea of a bailout program helping out Smithfield has angered small hog producers across the country. The Post report says the situation shows how difficult it is to craft relief programs and keep the payments exclusively in the hands of domestic companies. Companies that have long international reach make it difficult to ensure U.S. dollars stay in U.S. hands, regardless of their intended target. In an email, a USDA spokesman says the agency doesn’t have the ability to make sure relief money doesn’t eventually filter into Chinese hands.