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USDA Close to Revealing Trump Payment Details - Perdue

USDA aid will not make up for the revenue that farmers lose because they cannot plant a crop.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- After weeks of being “intentionally opaque,” the USDA is close to announcing details of this year’s Trump tariff payments, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Wednesday, but he declined to say how soon the information will appear.

“The reason we’re close is the prevented-planting triggers are done. That was our purpose for being intentionally opaque about the plans and not having producers trying to farm the program,” Perdue told reporters after speaking to the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives. “I think we’re close to beginning disclosing some of these plans.”

President Trump has announced that up to $14.5 billion in cash will be paid to producers to mitigate the impact of trade war on U.S. agriculture. Only the skeleton of the program has been provided. Details such as county-level payment rates have been withheld. USDA has said payments will be based on plantings of more than two dozen crops. Specialty crops and livestock have their own payment formulas.

During a breakfast-time speech to NCFC, Perdue said USDA will use money from a recently enacted disaster bill to “top off” prevented-planting indemnities. The bump-up will depend on the yet-to-be-determined total of prevent-plant acreage, he said.

Perdue reiterated USDA’s intention to make county-level payments and for a “minimal” trade mitigation payment on prevent-plant land that is planted to one of the cover crops among the more than two dozen crops that are part of the trade compensation package.

USDA aid will not make up for the revenue farmers lose because they cannot plant a crop, said Perdue. Some analysts say farmers could collect three or four payments on prevent-plant land; a crop insurance indemnity, the bump-up from disaster bill funds, the minimal Trump payment, and revenue from harvesting or grazing of cover crops.

“There is no way that would come up to a good crop,” said Perdue. “Prevented planting is not a strategy. It is a fall-back safety mechanism.”

Perdue said the trade payment plan was under review at the White House.

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