Earlier this summer, President Donald Trump proclaimed that the federal government would step in to help support American farmers and ranchers affected by the ongoing trade wars with China and other countries.
The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, revealed the details of this program Monday afternoon.
Initially, up to $6.2 billion will be distributed to crop and livestock producers this fall.
U.S. Department of Agriculture officials said the cash payments might be doubled, depending upon trade and market conditions at the end of the year.
Producers are eligible to receive aid on this year’s production of seven commodities: soybeans, cotton, pork, dairy, sorghum, wheat and corn.
The payments made at harvest time will be half of the producer’s total 2018 production multiplied by the payment rates established for the respective commodity.
If a second payment is announced, the remaining 50 percent of 2018 production will be calculated at a new payment rate (to be determined).
The published rates for each commodity are as follows: Cotton at $0.06/lb; Corn at $0.01/bu; Dairy (milk) at $0.12/cwt; pork at $8/head; sorghum at $0.86/bu; wheat at $0.14/bu; and soybeans taking the bulk of the budget at $1.65/bu.
An additional $1.2 billion will be spent by the federal government to buy surplus commodities and to redistribute them to public nutrition programs.
As announced, this includes $559 million of pork, $93 million of apples, and $85 million of dairy. USDA will also spend $200 million on overseas market developments to encourage trade with the U.S.
Sign-up for producers begins on Sept. 4 and will continue through mid-January 2019.
Wheat, pork, and dairy producers could sign up immediately at their local USDA office. Undersecretary, Bill Northey, claimed "In less than a week, we should get some of these payments out the door."
Perdue released the details of this federal aid hours after Trump announced a tentative free-trade agreement with Mexico.
This agreement opens doors with Canada over the proposed NAFTA, according to U.S. trade representative, Robert Lighthizer.
This is good news in light of the final hearings on Monday for an administration proposal of 25 percent tariffs on an additional $200 million of Chinese imports.