Next Round of Trade Aid Is Still “TBD”

With phase one of a trade deal with China now in the books, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is deciding on whether or not it will go through with the next round of trade relief payments to farmers for their 2019 production.

USDA Deputy Secretary Stephen Censky told Politico that the department is looking to make a final decision in the near future. After a recent Senate Ag Committee hearing, Censky said, “I think we’re very much aware that producers have been impacted by the trade retaliation, they’ve been impacted by weather, and low incomes.”

The Ag Department is currently dividing up the $14.5 billion it set aside for direct payments in three installments. The second and third rounds will be available in November and January if they’re needed.

The Trump Administration claims that Beijing will soon ramp up its U.S. ag purchases to about $40 billion per year. That could make it more difficult for the USDA to justify giving out the remainder of the $14.5 billion set aside for this year’s direct aid program.