A second and final round of trade mitigation payments meant to assist farmers suffering from damage due to “unjustified trade retaliation by foreign nations” has been announced by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, and farmers in Wasco and Hood River counties are encouraged to apply by the Jan. 15 deadline.

Producers of certain commodities will be eligible to receive Market Facilitation Program (MFP) payments for the second half of their 2018 production. Producers in Wasco and Hood River counties participated in the first round of payments, said Lissa Ann Biehn, Wasco/Hood River County Farm Service Agency executive director.

“Wasco County producers included cherry growers, wheat farmers and hog producers. Hood River County has been cherry growers only,” she said. “We are strongly encouraging local farmers and landowners with crop shares to apply,” Biehn said. “I am sure there are still many out there who haven’t applied yet and need to do so before Jan. 15.”

“The President reaffirmed his support for American farmers and ranchers and made good on his promise, authorizing the second round of payments to be made in short order,” said Perdue. “While there have been positive movements on the trade front, American farmers are continuing to experience losses due to unjustified trade retaliation by foreign nations. This assistance will help with short-term cash flow issues as we move into the new year,” he added.

Perdue announced in July that USDA would act to aid farmers in response to trade damage, and President Trump directed him to craft a short-term relief strategy, according to an agency press release. In September, USDA initiated three programs to aid American agriculture in sustaining short-term damages associated with the trade disputes.

Payments have been made to almond, corn, cotton, dairy, hog, sorghum, soybean, fresh sweet cherry, and wheat producers since September 2018 for the first 50 percent of their 2018 production.

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is administering a food purchase and distribution program to purchase up to $1.2 billion in commodities targeted in retaliation. USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is distributing these commodities through nutrition assistance programs, such as The Emergency Food Assistance Program and child nutrition programs. So far, USDA has procured some portion of 16 of the 29 commodities included in the program, totaling more than 4,500 truckloads of food. AMS will continue purchasing commodities for delivery throughout 2019.

Through the Foreign Agricultural Service’s (FAS) Agricultural Trade Promotion (ATP) program, $200 million is being made available to develop foreign markets for U.S. agricultural products. The program will help U.S. agricultural exporters identify and access new markets and help mitigate the adverse effects of other countries’ restrictions. The application period closed in November with more than $600 million in requested activities from more than 70 organizations. FAS will announce ATP funding awards in early January.

For more information or to locate and contact local FSA offices, interested producers can visit www.farmers.gov.

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