(Reuters) - The Trump administration was set on Tuesday to announce up to $12 billion in aid for U.S. farmers to shield them from the repercussions of trade spats between the United States and China, the European Union and others.
“President Trump has said he has the back of U.S. farmers and today demonstrated this commitment with an aid package to sustain American agriculture cutoff from critical export markets as his administration works to realign U.S. global trade policy.
“U.S. pork, which began the year in expansion mode to capitalize on unprecedented global demand, now faces punitive tariffs on 40 percent of its exports. The restrictions we face in critical markets such as Mexico and China – our top two export markets by volume last year – have placed American pig farmers and their families in dire financial straits. We thank the president for taking immediate action.”
RON LEE, GENERAL MANAGER, MCCLESKEY COTTON, BRONWOOD, GEORGIA
“The big news today for agriculture out of Washington is the plan to use a Great Depression-era policy to use the Commodity Credit Corporation to disperse $12 Billion, with a capital B, in aid to farmers hit by the current trade impasse.... Personally, I’m not sure how all this will play out other than to get the vibe that the Trump administration is in it for the long haul on trying to hammer out these new trade pacts. Mexico and Canada have shown a recent interest to step up talks, but China remains largely at an impasse. Most every grower I know would rather have great trade avenues and receive their revenue from the market, but this shows that Trump and the USDA plans to give his rural base some relief as these negotiations are certainly causing some financial pain to those regions in the last few months.”
“The $12 billion in farm aid announced today will provide a short-term fix, but it’s not a long-term solution. As I’ve said all along, nobody wins in a trade war. We must continue to expand and open markets, protect the Renewable Fuel Standard and allow Iowa products to be sold across the globe. Iowa farmers are the most productive in the world and will always win when they have unrestricted access to markets. I will never stop fighting for Iowa families affected by this trade war.”
BLAKE HURST, CORN AND SOYBEAN FARMER, PRESIDENT, MISSOURI FARM BUREAU
“The payments will be helpful to farmers facing overdue loans and angry bankers, but are completely insufficient if they mean that tariffs and the trade war will last for the foreseeable future. They are a very temporary bandage to a self inflicted wound.”
“It’s unclear for now, especially since we don’t know how much of it will be dedicated to cotton. The main focus will be soybeans, which is a much larger market and has a bigger political impact.”
“When politics or market forces beyond farmers’ control put their business at risk, the government can and should consider initiatives to keep family farmers on the farm. As farmers, we want access to markets, which will allow us the ability to compete on a level playing field but support these payments if this stands as our only recourse. We will continue to monitor the details of this proposal as it comes together.”
“The best relief for the president’s trade war would be ending the trade war.”
“Farmers need contracts, not compensation, so they can create stability and plan for the future. This proposed action would only be a short-term attempt at masking the long-term damage caused by tariffs.”
“The $12 billion package of agricultural assistance announced today by the administration will provide a welcome measure of temporary relief to our farmers and ranchers who are experiencing the financial effects of the trade war. This should help many of our farmers and ranchers weather the rough road ahead and assist in their dealings with their financial institutions.
“We are grateful for the administration’s recognition that farmers and ranchers needed positive news now and this will buy us some time. This announcement is substantial, but we cannot overstate the dire consequences that farmers and ranchers are facing in relation to lost export markets. Our emphasis continues to be on trade and restoring markets, and we will continue to push for a swift and sure end to the trade war and the tariffs impacting American agriculture.”
CASEY GUERNSEY, FORMER MISSOURI LAWMAKER AND SPOKESMAN FOR AMERICANS FOR FARMERS & FAMILIES
“Rather than accepting retaliatory tariffs and seeking to offset them with federal assistance, America’s producers believe the administration should look toward solutions that will enable them to export their homegrown goods to critical markets around the globe.”
“My family got into farming to sell beef, not to accept government assistance. While we need to hold our trading partners to account and ensure fair deals are reached, our government must also pursue long-term and sustainable solutions.”
BRIAN SCHAUMBERG, CORN AND SOYBEAN FARMER, CHENOA, ILLINOIS
“I don’t know the details but I’m not thrilled. I’ve spent many, many years and many checkoff dollars to build our markets and all of this got thrown in the dumpster in one tweet. We (farmers) don’t want direct payments … we just want open markets. Quite honestly, I’ve been through the Russian (grain) embargo with (President) Carter and other trade wars – nobody wins them. And I have a bad taste in my mouth over this one. I think there are better ways around this. I’m sick and tired of weaponizing food. We fight bad weather, it’s hard to fight tariffs and embargos.”
JOHN HEISDORFFER, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN SOYBEAN ASSOCIATION, SOYBEAN FARMER, KEOTA, IOWA
“Our best course of action is to expand other markets and develop new ones to buy the soybeans we’re not selling to China.
This means finishing the NAFTA negotiations as soon as possible so we can begin talks on new bilateral agreements with other key soybean markets including Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines.”
“The American Soybean Association has consistently advised the Administration that the best way to reduce our nation’s trade deficit is by increasing exports, including of agricultural products.”
“Since the Administration has decided to use tariffs to address trade concerns with China, and China has retaliated, farmers don’t have time to wait to see how this trade war turns out.”
SCOTT IRWIN, AGRICULTURAL ECONOMIST WITH THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS
The direct payment program portion will be “the largest and probably the most controversial” part of the aid package.
“We have never compensated farmers directly on such a large scale for retaliatory tariffs.”
“Twelve billion dollars, the vast majority of it sent to farmers mainly in the Midwest in the form of direct payments, is a shock-and-awe response to the hit that farmers have taken in the trade war.”
“The fine print will be important. We know the package won’t make farmers whole.”
Shares of farm equipment companies rose. Deere & Co jumped 2.7 percent, while Caterpillar Inc gained more than 1 percent and AGCO Corp rose 0.5 percent.
Soybean futures <0#S:> rose 1.3 percent to their highest in two weeks.