A plan could be in place by September
By Diego Flammini
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is in the process of developing a support plan for American producers affected by tariffs.
Canada, China and Mexico have each placed retaliatory import duties on U.S. ag products in retaliation for American levies on steel and aluminum.
The USDA is exploring whether to call upon a program from the Depression to help producers through a time of uncertain trade relations.
Section 32 of the Agriculture Act of 1935 ets aside “the equivalent of 30 percent of annual customs receipts to support the farm sector through the purchase of surplus commodities.”
Section 32 spending in 2015 was about US$306 million, the Congressional Research Service says.
The USDA may have to purchase ag products from American farmers, said Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.
“That’s where we buy crops that don’t have a place to go and give them to school lunch programs and food banks. So, we’re using that and will continue to use that program as well,” Perdue said during a roundtable discussion yesterday, Jefferson Public Radio reports.
Secretary Perdue has until Labor Day to come up with a solution.
Using Section 32 doesn’t make up for low commodity prices, but it can help farmers in the meantime, Perdue said.
“We’d rather have trade then aid,” he said during the discussion. “There’s not a farmer in your area that wouldn’t rather have a good crop at a fair price than get a government check.”