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Decision ‘Sooner Rather Than Later’ on Whether Unplanted Cropland Gets Trump Bailout

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said he’ll have a decision “sooner rather than later” — maybe by Friday or maybe next week in Iowa with the president — on whether unplanted cropland will be eligible for Trump tariff payments this year. The USDA initially said unplanted land would not be eligible for the up to $14.5 billion in trade-mitigation payments, but the huge amount of flooded land in the Midwest prompted a second look at the question.

“I believe people deserve an answer sooner rather than later, so we hoped to have that within a few days for people,” Perdue said on Wednesday, according to a USDA transcript of remarks to reporters in Newburg, Maryland. Asked if an announcement would be made by Friday, Perdue replied, “Possibly … I was planning on doing it this Friday but it could be next week.” President Trump is scheduled to be in Iowa on Tuesday, he noted.

Citing “a government official,” Agri-Pulse said “USDA’s top lawyers have confirmed that unplanted crop acreage will be ineligible for trade assistance payment.” A USDA spokesman was not immediately available for comment on the report.

The USDA has released few details on how it will divide the money or when payments will be made. More than two dozen crops are eligible for payment. According to USDA, the money will be apportioned on the basis of trade damage in each county, and payments to producers will be based on land planted to eligible crops this year. Payment rates will vary county to county.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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