Perdue: USDA to provide trade aid information by end of week
The Agriculture Department will provide more information on the distribution of aid to farmers to compensate them for the loss of China markets by the end of the week, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told reporters Tuesday after a speech to Farm Credit executives visiting Washington.
Perdue said farmers who have qualified for the aid by filing crop data reports will get a minimum of $15 per acre.
The aid will be distributed in three tranches, Perdue said. USDA can establish the aid program without congressional involvement because it has authority to spend $30 billion per year to help farmers, but Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., noted at a hearing this summer that USDA has already distributed so much in farm subsidies and trade aid that the department has less than $7 billion remaining in CCC budget authority for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30.
Perdue also said that USDA could begin distributing $3 billion in a separate disaster aid program in August.
The disaster aid, which is for midwestern farmers who experienced flooding this year and for southern farmers who experienced hurricanes and western forest owners who experienced fires last year, was passed in June as part of the $19.1 billion supplemental disaster assistance bill.
During his speech, Perdue told the Farm Credit executives that the situation in rural America is not as bad as some headlines would indicate. The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis has said that farm bankruptcies have risen 30%, but that is only from 79 to 103. Agricultural loan deficiencies are up but only slightly, Perdue said.
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