Durbin Statement On USDA Second Round Of Trade Aid Payments

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), a member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee, today released the following statement regarding the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announcement of the second tranche of 2019 Market Facilitation Program payments to assist American farmers affected by the Trump Administration’s trade policies:

“Illinois soybean farmers have been badly hurt by the President’s nearly two-year trade war with China. Worse yet, when you look at trade aid payments per acre, the top five states are in the South, with Georgia ranked number one.  Cotton was barely touched by the Trump-China trade war and soybeans were clobbered. Is the Secretary of Agriculture playing it straight?” Durbin said.

Last week, Durbin and 16 other Senators sent a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue, urging USDA to improve its trade assistance program to better support farmers based on harm and pursue a focused trade policy to rebuild the markets American farmers have lost.  Durbin, along with members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, also released a new report that details how the Trump Administration is picking winners and losers in their attempt to aid farmers affected by President Trump’s turbulent trade agenda.

The USDA trade aid ranges from $15 to $150 per acre, with Illinois ranging from $87 (Piatt County) to $50 (Jo Daviess County) or an average of $69 per acre.  By comparison, cotton counties in Georgia average $75 per acre; in Arizona, $79 per acre; in Mississippi, $87 per acre; and in Alabama, $94 per acre. Payments in more than 35 Alabama and Mississippi counties far exceed the top Illinois payment, with some cotton growers receiving $150 per acre, double the Illinois average. There are approximately 16,000 cotton farms growing on 12 million acres whose two-year market losses in China are $54 million, or just a six percent drop. There are approximately 303,000 soybean farms growing on roughly 80 million acres (including more than 36,000 Illinois farms) whose two-year market losses in China are $9 billion, a 75 percent drop.