WASHINGTON – With a goal of continuing to assist ranchers and farmers who’ve been financially affected by the US government’s unresolved disputes with its trading partners, President Donald Trump approved a second round of mitigation payments to producers of some commodities under the Market Facilitation Program (MFP). Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue confirmed on Nov. 17 the payments for the second half of 2018 would be made for producers of crops, dairy and pork who suffered financially as a result of the ongoing trade negotiations.   

“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,” Perdue said. “This assistance will help with short-term cash flow issues as we move into the new year.”  

Earlier this year, President Trump instructed Perdue to develop a plan to help protect agricultural producers while the administration endeavors to establish “free, fair, and reciprocal trade deals to open more markets to help American farmers compete globally,” according to the US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA). In September, the USDA announced several programs designed to provide agriculturally focused aid to those farmers and ranchers suffering short-term damage during the trade disputes.

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) applauded President Trump for approving the aid but stressed that pork producers want trade conflicts resolved.

“We need to end these trade disputes soon and open new markets, so we can export to consumers around the globe the safest, most nutritious pork in the world,” said Jim Heimerl, NPPC president.

The programs included plans to administer payments to eligible producers; a food purchasing and distribution program; and the Foreign Agricultural Service’s investment of $200 million to develop foreign trade markets for US agricultural products.

According to the USDA, producers can still sign up for MFP payments for the first half and second half of 2018 by filling out the application by Jan. 15, 2019 and confirming their 2018 production by May 1, 2019.

For producers already participating in the program, a second payment will be issued on the remaining 50 percent of their total production, multiplied by the MFP rate for that commodity.