The Trump Administration announced new details regarding a $16 billion bailout for farmers impacted by U.S.-China trade disagreements.
The new deal included key provisions meant to stop larger corporations for taking big payouts at the expense of small farmers, according to the Washington Post. In 2018, the payout to individual farmers was capped at $125,000. That amount was raised to $250,000 per person or legal entity with a cap of $500,000 for farmers who grow row crops, farmers who produce specialty crops such as nuts, cranberries or grapes, and producers of dairy and pork.
Darin Von Ruden is a third-generation dairy farmer in Westby who also serves as president of the Wisconsin Farmers Union. Von Ruden said he is looking forward to seeing the changes made compared to 2018. He said last year, soybean producers were the main beneficiaries of the program. Despite the increased benefits for a wider scope of producers, he did not see how it can help farms that are already in deep financial trouble.
“The amount that is coming in is not going to save the farms that are already struggling or have filed bankruptcy,” Von Ruden said. “As far as the future goes, we’ve lost those markets. To get those back, that’s not something that is going to happen overnight. It could take years or maybe even decades. “
He added the money might be a quick fix to help cover a bill or two, but he would like to see a long-term plan that develops certainty for farmers with re-established trade markets.
“We’re not seeing that at all out of the Trump administration and the current USDA,” Von Ruden said. “We are going on a day-by-day basis, and that is really not good for the farm economy and the economy as a whole when there is no certainty in what is going to happen with the products that you are producing.”
Another solution Von Ruden would like to explore is controlling overproduction.
“That’s one of the biggest reasons in all of agriculture now why we are seeing low prices,” Von Ruden said. “Certainly the tariff wars and trade wars have compounded that issue, but we were dealing with low prices before that started and a lot of that has to deal with our being over-efficient.”
Von Ruden said he knows of farmers in southwest Wisconsin who applied for this aid last year and were disappointed. He was hopeful for the enhanced benefits for corn and dairy producers