Durbin Statement On USDA Third 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 final installment of 2019 Market Facilitation Program payments to help American farmers hurt by the Trump Administration’s trade policies:

“Illinois soybean farmers need this trade aid because of the financial losses they’ve incurred. But once again, USDA has overcompensated southern cotton growers, whose market losses are small and whose prices have gone up, with more aid on a county-by-county basis than Illinois’ soybean farmers.  Our farmers are coming off one of the toughest years in memory, and the USDA’s formula for trade aid payments adds insult to injury,” said Durbin.  “Under President Trump, farmers last year received 40 percent of their income from the government. That’s because the Trump Administration’s trade approach with China seriously damaged major export markets for Illinois and possibly for years to come.”

Last November, Durbin, along with members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, released a 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 Senators also 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.  

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 nationwide 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.