Source: United States House of Representatives – Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer (IA-01)
June 24, 2019
Current payments shortchange Iowa farmers, underestimate impact of trade war and flooding
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer (IA-01) led a bipartisan letter to US Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue urging the Administration to improve its Market Facilitation Program which provides direct payments to farmers impacted by the ongoing trade war. Finkenauer emphasized the urgent need for fair and adequate trade assistance as the Administration’s trade war with China continues to take a toll on Iowa’s economy. Since the trade war began, corn growers have lost an estimated $6.3 billion. Under the first round of aid, many farmers received lower payments than expected. For example, the USDA paid farmers only one cent per bushel of corn, failing to account for lost market share of other corn products hit by the tariffs.
“Our farmers prepare for uncertainty, not recklessness,” said Finkenauer. “As chair of the Rural Development, Agriculture, Trade, and Entrepreneurship subcommittee, I’m focused on making sure Iowans’ voices are heard in Washington and sharing the devastating stories I’m hearing in roundtables with farmers and in conversations with constituents across the district. Iowans aren’t asking for much – just some much-needed stability and fairness after they’ve been hit by this trade war and historic flooding. I’ll continue to work with anyone who’s serious about helping Iowans and stand up to anyone—Democrat or Republican—who hurts them.”
In the letter, Finkenauer urged the USDA to consider other factors like the historic flooding when calculating payments. As of May 23, 2019, 24% of corn acres in Iowa were unplanted with farmers having to delay – and in some cases abandon – planting. Only 19% of soybean acres had been planted, compared with an average of 47% in previous years. Since the Market Facilitation Program awards payments based on the acres planted in 2019, farmers across the state are concerned about how they are going to make ends meet.
“With farmers still facing significant headwinds and difficult decisions, we remain grateful for Secretary Perdue’s commitment to Iowa’s soybean farmers,” said Michael Dolch, director of public affairs at Iowa Soybean Association. “As its relief strategy is further refined, we encourage USDA to continue exploring the direct and indirect effects of China’s retaliatory tariffs, as well as the legal flexibilities of the MFP to help mitigate producer risk.”
Finkenauer was joined in the letter by Congresswoman Cindy Axne (IA-03) and Republican Congressmen Jim Hagedorn (MN-01) and Don Bacon (NE-02).
“Right now, our farmers are struggling from low commodity prices due a reckless trade war and crop losses from devastating natural disasters,” said Congresswoman Axne. “We must listen to the concerns of our communities and ensure we are providing them with the assistance they need.”