By Sarah Gonzalez, Director of Communications and Digital Media
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Jan. 8 extended the deadline for producers to apply for trade mitigation payments designed to assist farmers suffering economic harm from trade retaliation by foreign nations in response to President Trump’s imposition of tariffs. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Market Facilitation Program (MFP) payments are delayed due to the federal government shutdown that began in December.
The original deadline to apply had been Jan. 15, 2019, but farmers have been unable to do so since the lapse in federal funding resulted in the closure of USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices on Dec. 28.
“Using existing funds, we were able to keep FSA offices open as long as possible, but unfortunately had to close them when funding ran out,” Perdue said. “We will therefore extend the application deadline for a period of time equal to the number of business days FSA offices were closed, once the government shutdown ends.”
Trump and Perdue on July 24 announced that USDA would create a short-term relief strategy providing up to $12 billion to partially compensate U.S. producers affected by retaliatory tariffs imposed by foreign countries in response to U.S. tariffs imposed on imports of steel, aluminum and other products. In December, USDA launched the second and final round of MFP payments.
USDA noted that farmers who already have applied for the program and certified their 2018 production have continued to receive payments during the federal government shutdown.
Meanwhile, Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., wrote a Jan. 9 letter to Perdue raising a number of concerns, including how the delay in issuing trade mitigation payments will impact producers and how the shutdown would affect the implementation of the 2018 farm law, which the president signed a day before the government shutdown began.