Texas County farmers are receiving assistance for losses due to trade wars.

Texas County farmers have received about $74,000 in payments related to trade-related losses, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture data that can be searched by name, county and commodity.

In Texas County, the breakdown is: Sorghum, $1,546; dairy, $66,786; soybeans, $4,676; wheat, $260; and corn, $490. Forty-nine farmers in the county received payments.

The bailouts were designed to help farmers who were already weathering low prices on commodities, such as soybean and milk,  before President Trump’s trade wars sunk prices even lower. The administration has so far mailed checks totaling about $8.6 billion to U.S. farmers to help make up for lower market prices of 2018 crops.

Many farmers originally supported the administration’s trade posture, but their patience is wearing thin, said Charles Atkinson, a member of the American Soybean Association’s board of directors. He received payments worth $18,557 for last year’s soybean, corn and wheat crops.

“We know negotiations are happening with China and getting closer,” he said. “I wouldn’t say there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s getting closer.” His comments came before the Chinese devaluated their currency sending world stock markets tumbling.

But what was billed as a short-term sacrifice that would deliver long-term gain shows no signs of letting up:  Trump recently threatened a 10 percent tariff on $300 billion worth of Chinese goods, which would take effect in September, as trade negotiations continue to stall.

In the meantime, the government continues issuing checks — sparking outrage from free-market think tanks that have equated the move with socialism and criticized it for ballooning the national debt.

Bailout payments from the Market Facilitation Program over the last two years have totaled $444 million for farms based in Missouri, according to data obtained by the Associated Press and analyzed by The Kansas City Star.

The administration is poised to hand out even more cash: federal officials recently unveiled details of a $16 billion trade aid package, which includes nearly $15 billion more in direct payments to farmers.

During the first eight months of the bailout program, the federal government paid out $8.55 billion to 577,713 farmers. More than 80 percent of the funds went to soybean farmers, the AP found, though funds were available for growers of nine commodities the USDA identified as tariff-affected.

Blake Hurst, president of the Missouri Farm Bureau, said it’s hard to tell when things may turn around for the industry.

“This is just not a good situation,” he said. “The administration would argue it’s short-term pain for a longer-term gain. And we shall see. But we’re two years in and it’s hard to see what gain we’ve had so far.”

Hurst received $21,950 in soybean trade assistance for his Tarkio family farm. He said farmers have largely cheered the president’s tough stance toward China, but not his aggression toward North American trading partners.

“I think most farmers make a distinction between China and these other trade disputes,” he said, “and have a great deal more patience trying to fix things with China and wonder why in the hell we’re picking fights with Canada or Mexico.”

The Associated Press and the Kansas City Star contributed to this report

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply