A promise made and kept

USDA delivers on trade mitigation payments

Politicians make a great many promises. All too often, however, actions they claim they will take don’t materialize.

When President Trump escalated his trade confrontation with China earlier this year, the Chinese responded to proposed tariff increases by retaliating. They targeted U.S. agricultural sales to China in ways that could have substantially reduced the anticipated export of key products including corn, pork and soybeans. The Chinese goal was to put political pressure on our president in farm states critical to Republican political success.

To counter the Chinese ploy, the president announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture would develop mechanisms to lessen economic losses by American farmers that take place as a result of retaliatory measures by other nations. This was deemed feasible because the Chinese actions having a negative impact on farmers were expected to be short-term. It was anticipated that once a complicated renegotiation of trade agreements between the two nations were concluded the retaliatory actions would cease. That led to the creation of the USDA’s Market Facilitation Program to address the short-term financial problem for farmers. It was announced on Dec. 17 by the USDA that the second round of trade mitigation payments under the MFP was about to take place.

“The President reaffirmed his support for American farmers and ranchers and made good on his promise, authorizing the second round of payments to be made in short order,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said in a statement issued by his office. “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.”

The Messenger welcomes this recognition by the Trump administration that farmers have experienced financial losses as a result of this ongoing trade dispute. The actions taken to alleviate the hardship in rural America make sense. The president has kept his promise to our nation’s farmers. That’s worthy of strong praise. Hopefully, a new trade agreement with China will soon keep that huge market an attractive venue for selling Iowa agricultural products far into the future.

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