President Trump’s trade war with China has ravaged American farmers. In an attempt to mitigate the pain felt by farmers, particularly those deep in Trump country, the Trump administration approved a $12 billion bailout for farmers.
The New York Times recently reported that the bailout program has been generally unsuccessful in minimizing the pain from the trade war. The bailout was created to “make up” for the trade war losses. According to the Times, Trump’s bailout “has done little to cushion the blow, with red tape and long waiting periods resulting in few payouts so far.”
In September, $6 billion of the bailout money became available for hurting farmers. The Department of Agriculture reports that only $838 million has been distributed to farmers thus far. The second $6 billion chunk of bailout money should be made available to farmers next month. According to agriculture secretary Sonny Perdue, additional money will not be offered to help farmers.
The program has many failings, one of which is that it requires farmers to wait to apply for assistance until after harvests are completed for the season. Many farmers harvests have been delayed by bad weather, and so have been unable to apply for assistance.
Jim Mulhern is the president of the National Milk Producers Federation. Mulhern said that the dairy farmers hardest hit by the trade war have not yet seen any financial help from the bailout. He said, “This was supposed to make sure farmers were not the victims of this trade policy.” Mulhern continued, “I think most agriculture producers feel that the payments have not come close to making up for the damage for the tariffs.”
Beyond frustrations with the slow pace of assistance, farmers are frustrated with the slow pace of trade talks between the United States and China. Lynn Rohrscheib is a corn and soybean farmer in Illinois. Rohrscheib said, “We don’t want a handout.” She added, “We want trade. We want to sell the crop.”