Farm Aid Details Released

Details of a $16 billion federal aid package intended to help farmers hurt by the current trade war with China have been released. According to a statement from the Agriculture Department, 50 percent of farmers’ aid will be paid out at the end of August, with additional payments scheduled for November and January, depending on whether trade disputes are still ongoing. To be eligible for payments, crops must be planted by Aug. 1, 2019, and payments are capped at $500,000 per person or legal entity.

This aid program covers farmers that produce 29 commodity crops, are classified as dairy and hog farmers, and farms that grow 10 specialty crops. Farmers applying must be earning less than $900,000 a year and the payments will be based on a farm’s size and location. Famers will be paid rates of $15 to $150 an acre, with farmers in the South poised to see higher rates than in the Midwest.

According to the payment rates posted online, the average county payment rate for Illinois would be $69 per acre and would be $66 in Iowa. That amount rises to about $95 per acre in Alabama, $87 in Mississippi and $70 in Louisiana. The Department of Agriculture said the minimum and maximum payment rates were based on an analysis of 10 years of trade data. Sign-ups for the payments will last until Dec. 6.

Farmers across the nation are struggling in the face of retaliatory tariffs from China, the European Union, Canada, and Mexico as President Trump uses tariffs to force the re-negotiation of trade deals. Pork and soybeans were among the hardest hit products. The bailout is the second round of financial support for farmers, who received $12 billion in subsidies last year. Many say the bailout will not make farmers whole. Total farm income across the country fell 16 percent in 2018, according to data from the Agriculture Department.