Farmers hit by retaliatory tariffs may receive larger checks from USDA’s second batch of trade aid than in the last iteration in 2018, and direct payments are expected to be sent out as soon as this month, according to the USDA.
The administration raised to $500,000 the total amount of subsidies each farm operation can collect in direct payments, compared with $375,000 last year. USDA also eased what was a $900,000 adjusted gross income test to qualify for the program. Now, as long as at least 75 percent of someone’s income is derived from agriculture, that limit won’t apply.
Of the $16 billion trade package, $14.5 billion is set aside for direct payments. Another $1.4 billion will go to federal purchases of surplus agricultural commodities that will be distributed to food banks, and $100 million to promote exports overseas. The provisions are similar to last year’s $12 billion trade relief package.
Unlike 2018, when payments were based on specific commodities, meaning soybean growers received the lion’s share, every commodity grower in 2019 will receive the same payment per acre as other growers in the county, regardless of what was planted—an attempt to avoid influencing farmers’ decisions.
Payments will be distributed in three installments, with the last two dependent on the status of the trade talks, USDA said.