A senior USDA official says the amount of money sent to farmers to help mitigate the financial damage from the trade war may not be as much as expected. An Agriculture.com article quotes USDA Under Secretary Bill Northey as saying up to two-thirds of the Trump trade aid payments were made by early January. Northey said, “up to $5 billion of the $8 billion we expect to make in mitigation payments” has already gone out to farmers.
Northey didn’t give any additional information as to why the figure didn’t quite measure up to the initial $9.6 billion in payments that were estimated to go to producers of almonds, cotton, corn, dairy, pork, soybeans, sorghum, sweet cherries, and wheat. USDA is also aiding growers by purchasing $1.2 billion worth of food to give away and providing $200 million to ag export groups for trade promotion work.
Also, the temporary agreement to reopen the government on Friday was good news for SNAP recipients. The agreement is expected to allow nine unfunded agencies to reopen, including USDA. There were a lot of questions about how the USDA would make SNAP payments in March. The program’s reserve fund was too small to pay out March benefits in full.
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