Perdue hopes no need for 2020 trade aid payments
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said today that he hopes negotiations with China will lead to export sales that will “supplant” any need for trade aid payments in 2020.
Farmers “would rather have trade than aid,” Perdue said in brief comments on trade aid during a call to reporters after landing in the United States from a trade mission to Mexico.
But Perdue also noted that the second tranche of the 2019 aid will go out to farmers shortly.
“We just have gotten authorization on the second tranche,” Perdue said, adding that he expects payments to go out late in November or in early December.
Perdue also said he met with Mexican Agriculture Minister Víctor Manuel Villalobos Arámbula and that Villalobos has accepted his invitation to attend the Agriculture Department’s Outlook conference in February. Perdue also said that he has invited the agriculture ministers from Canada, Brazil and Argentina to the conference and hopes that they can attend so that the agriculture officials from the five biggest economies in the Americas “can strategize.”
Perdue said Mexican officials want the U.S. Congress to approve the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement on trade as soon as possible.
“They have done their work, as you know, and they are anxious that we complete our task,” Perdue told reporters.
Perdue also said he discussed Mexico’s role in the movement of Mexican farm workers to the United States and said that he hopes the Mexican government will “precertify” Mexican workers from impoverished southeastern Mexico for the H-2A program. Perdue said Mexican precertification to create a “pool” of potential migrant workers could help avoid the problems that have arisen with recruiters who have not followed the U.S. rules.
Perdue said he told Mexican officials that the workers from southeastern Mexico could “earn a good living here and take the training back and become small stakeholder entrepreneurs.”
Perdue said he is hoping for “legislative input” on the labor issue, but he did not state his position on the bipartisan farm worker bill recently introduced in the House.
Perdue said U.S. and Mexican business leaders took part in 600 business-to-business meetings that helped generate new export opportunities.
The Americans on the trade mission also participated in a National Football League event with children playing flag football and eating healthy food, he said.