Our producers are the best in the world, and when given a level playing field can compete in any market. We know that ultimately our producers want better trade deals that increase market access and bring down barriers. Although the Administration was close to reaching an agreement in principle with China a few weeks ago, China backtracked and delayed the negotiations, continuing to target our agriculture industry with retaliatory tariffs. That’s why as chairman of the Agriculture Appropriations Committee, I worked with the White House and U.S. Department of Agriculture to secure $16 billion in vital agriculture assistance to help producers impacted by the negotiations.
Specifically, the plan provides $14.5 billion in Market Facilitation Program payments that will go directly to producers. After hearing from our state’s producers, I worked to ensure that all Title I commodities, including soybeans, wheat, corn, canola, barley, oats, sunflowers, dry peas, flaxseed, lentils, dry beans and others, will be covered under this new round of payments.
The plan also includes $1.4 billion in Farm Purchases of surplus commodities like fruits, vegetables, beef, pork, poultry and milk, which will go to organizations including food pantries and school nutrition programs. Moving these surplus commodities is not only good for the market, but will benefit those in need.
Additionally, the plan provides $100 million in Trade Assistance to help develop new markets for U.S. agricultural goods. Our farmers and ranchers produce the highest quality, lowest cost food supply in the world, and this funding will help them to market their products in new areas. That will help to strengthen commodity markets and make our country less dependent on any one nation for trade.
As we work to finalize the details of this assistance, it’s important that we hear directly from farmers and ranchers on what they most need. That’s why I held roundtables with local farmers, livestock producers and commodity groups this past week to gather input that I can bring to USDA. This feedback will help determine how this assistance is delivered and ensure it best meets the needs of our producers, who have been on the front lines during the trade negotiations.
This assistance is not only necessary to help our agriculture industry weather this difficult time, but it sends a clear message to China that the U.S. will do what it takes to get better trade deals. Accordingly, I will continue to press for final trade agreements with China and Japan, and for passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). We have the votes in the Senate and are ready to pass the USMCA, but the bill has to originate in the House, so we need the House to take up and pass the USMCA. Securing these trade deals has always been the end goal, and this assistance is another vital step on that path.
John Hoeven, a Republican, represents North Dakota in the U.S. Senate.