Thompson: Impact of trade aid on policy ‘yet to be seen’ |

Thompson: Impact of trade aid on policy ‘yet to be seen’

Rep. G.T. Thompson, R-Pa., ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Subcommittee, speaks to the Crop Insurance Industry Annual Convention Monday in Bonita Springs, Fla.
Photo by Jerry Hagstrom/The Hagstrom Report

BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. — The impact of the Trump administration’s $28 billion trade aid package on policy in the next farm bill is “yet to be seen,” House Agriculture General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Subcommittee ranking member Glenn “G.T.” Thompson, R-Pa., said last week at the Crop Insurance Industry Annual Convention.

Thompson made the statement in response to a reporter’s question.

“Farmers just wanted a market,” Thompson added. The payments per acre or per animal “didn’t make people whole” but only helped them pay bills and were “not enough to impact the farm economy,” he added.

Thompson is next in line in seniority to be the highest ranking Republican on the House Agriculture Committee after House Agriculture Committee ranking member Michael Conaway, R-Texas, retires at the end of this session of Congress.

Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., is in line after Thompson, but Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Ark., has also said he wants the job.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said last week that the Trump administration’s decision to use the Agriculture Department’s Commodity Credit Corporation to spend $28 billion on trade including Market Facilitation Program payments directly to farmers without seeking congressional approval has led to proposals to abolish the CCC, the funding mechanism that has been used to make payments to farmers since the 1930s. Peterson also said that some farmers expect the payments to be continued.

Speaking of ad hoc disaster payments, which have also been made to farmers this past year, Thompson said that risk management programs are better than legislation passed in reaction to weather disasters.

He also noted that President Donald Trump’s budget, which includes cuts to the crop insurance program, is only “a request” and said that funding decisions “belong to Congress.”

Thompson pointed out that he is the founder with Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., of the bipartisan Congressional Crop Insurance Caucus, which will organize quarterly briefings to try to educate other members about crop insurance.

Thompson said he anticipates there will be an effort on the House floor to cut crop insurance during the next farm bill debate and that he wants to “crush” those efforts.

He urged attendees to lobby members of Congress in advance of the 2023 farm bill debate and urged them to get to know newly elected members. He also warned that, when times are good in agriculture, it’s easy to forget how important risk management programs are for tough times.

The approval of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement on trade is “a great victory,” especially for the northern states that hope to benefit from provisions that should end Canada’s “isolationist” dairy policies that have kept out U.S. products and disrupted dairy markets in other countries. ❖

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