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USDA to release second round of trade aid payments to farmers

Soybean exports have been hindered by tariffs imposed on China by the Trump administration. (Forum News Service file photo)

BISMARCK -- Farmers affected by the ongoing trade war with China will receive a second round of aid payments to help make up for price losses, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“While there have been positive movements on the trade front, American farmers are continuing to experience losses due to unjustified trade retaliation by foreign nations. This assistance will help with short-term cash flow issues as we move into the new year,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a statement.

Earlier this fall, USDA opened applications for payments to farmers who raised certain crops for half of their production. This second round of payments will cover the rest of production.

The announcement comes just a couple days after hundreds of North Dakota Farmers Union members met in Bismarck for the organization’s 92nd state convention. At the start of the event, the Farmers Union called for the immediate distribution of those aid payments.

“The Administration told us in August, when half of the $12 billion was first distributed, that a second payment would be coming ‘if warranted,’” NDFU President Mark Watne said in a statement. “I’d say soybean prices that are $2 a bushel less than a year ago, and an 80-cent increase in basis, definitely qualifies as ‘warranted.’”

North Dakota corn, dairy, pork, soybean and wheat producers are among those eligible to receive payments under the Market Facilitation Program.

Producers who signed up for the first round of payments don’t have to sign up a second time for this next round. Signups opened in September and run through Jan. 15. Those who sign up then have until May 1 to certify their production.

Nationwide, USDA is expected to pay a total of $192 million to corn growers, nearly $255 million to dairy producers, more than $580 million to pork producers, $7.26 billion to soybean growers and more than $238 million to wheat growers.

"It's extremely important they did this," Watne said after the announcement was made.

The administration promised to keep farmers whole and, if producers have to continue to be the ones to take the brunt of the ongoing trade war, they should be supported, Watne said.

"They should maybe even start to take a look at what they're going to do next year if this is not resolved," Watne said.

Market Facilitation Program payments are limited to $125,000 per operator and applicants must meet income requirements.

For more further information, contact local Farm Service Agency offices or go online to www.farmers.gov.

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