May 23, 2019
WASHINGTON, DC -- Today, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue announced $16 billion in additional aid is being allocated to programs supporting farmers who have been impacted by retaliatory tariffs and the ongoing trade disputes. Rice had been excluded from a similar program last year, but was considered an impacted commodity this time around and rice growers will receive relief. While all of the programmatic details have yet to be released, this round of aid will again consist of direct payments to farmers; purchases of surplus commodities affected by trade retaliation for distribution to food banks, schools, and other outlets serving low-income individuals; and another round of trade promotion dollars for use in developing new international markets.
“The plan we are announcing today ensures farmers do not bear the brunt of unfair retaliatory tariffs imposed by China and other trading partners,” said Perdue. “Our team at USDA reflected on what worked well and gathered feedback on last year’s program to make this one even stronger and more effective for farmers. Our farmers work hard, are the most productive in the world, and we aim to match their enthusiasm and patriotism as we support them.”
The three programs USDA is utilizing are the Market Facilitation Program (MFP), Food Purchase and Distribution Program (FPDP), and the Agricultural Trade Promotion Program (ATP) -- the three programs used in 2018. Fundamentally, FPDP and ATP will be structured in similar formats, but the MFP will be focused on direct payments to farmers “based on a single county rate multiplied by a farm’s total plantings to those crops in aggregate in 2019,” according to a press release from USDA this afternoon. This structure is different than the 2018 MFP, which was based on actual production. Rice has been deemed an eligible commodity for these payments.
Charley Mathews, Jr., USA Rice chairman and California rice farmer, met with President Donald Trump at the White House this afternoon to discuss the trade aid package and the damages the rice industry has incurred due to the stress of tariffs and the ongoing trade disputes on the rice market.
“It was an honor to be invited to the White House to meet with President Trump this afternoon to express our appreciation for being included in this round of tariff mitigation aid, as well as to convey just how badly our industry has been affected by tariffs and bad trade actors, like China,” said Mathews. “The President acknowledged our position, but stressed his commitment of working towards getting China and other countries on a level playing field when it comes to trade.”
USDA stated earlier that the provision that will establish these programs is currently in the rule-making progress at the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, and once the rule has been cleared, more details on the programs will be announced.