Peterson: Perdue to put livestock, dairy, specialty crop aid ahead of commodities
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is focusing on developing aid programs for livestock, dairy and specialty crop producers ahead of any aid to crop producers in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said in a radio interview.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and. Economic Security (CARES) Act provided a $9.5 billion emergency fund for USDA to aid livestock, dairy and specialty crop producers and a $14 billion increase for the Commodity Credit Corporation, a USDA line of credit at the Treasury that is used mostly to aid crop producers.
In the interview with the Red River Farm Network in Minnesota, Peterson said Perdue told him in a telephone conversation last week that he is trying to develop systems for providing aid to the livestock, dairy and specialty crop growers, and that he will “hold off” on aid to commodity growers because they “have gotten significant payments earlier this year.”
Peterson said Perdue told him he will “wait” to see whether the crop producers need more aid.
Perdue “is having the chief economist and staff look at the different aspects of agriculture, trying to figure out what commodities have been the most damaged by the coronavirus,” Peterson said.
“They’re also looking at which ones will have the most damage going forward. USDA may come up with a system like they did the last time, but it would be a different formula. It’s not facilitation payments based on trade. It’s damage that’s been done by COVID-19.”
In the radio interview, Peterson also discussed the issue of aid to dairy farmers, noting that he had supported reopening the signup for the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program.
Peterson said he is supporting the move because of the “extraordinary circumstance,” but that reopening the signup “undermines” the concept of the DMC as an insurance program.
Dairy farmers, Peterson noted, don’t sign up for programs when they think the futures market indicates they will not get payments. When people buy insurance for their houses they don’t hope the house will burn down and they will get payments. And if people don’t buy flood insurance, they are not allowed to buy the insurance after a flood and get a payment, he said.
“In the future farmers are going to have to look at this differently,” he said.
Peterson said the decision has been made not to reopen the farm bill, but that he would like dairy farmers to able to increase their base production in the dairy program. He said he wanted to put that provision into the CARES Act but that the Senate would not go along with it, and that he wanted to create a new dairy program rather than reopen the farm bill.
–The Hagstrom Report
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