USDA earlier this month rolled out the final tranche of payments to farmers hurt by global trade disputes. The influx of funds could bring total payments for 2019 closer to $14.5 billion.
Prior to this distribution of aid, the Trump administration had paid around $11 billion to farmers and ranchers for their 2019 losses, as well as $8.6 billion for 2018. USDA approved the funds after the January thaw in trade tension with China.
In related news, payments from federal crop insurance total more than $6.4 billion for the 2019 growing season. That amount makes this the costliest year on record, resulting primarily from losses covered from the spring and summer floods across North and South Dakota, Minnesota, and Illinois, according to data from the USDA.
Steve Bowen, a meteorologist and head of catastrophe insight for an insurer, said that in terms of overall economic costs—including damage to agriculture, infrastructure and other property—the 1993 floods along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers remain the costliest in modern history at $38 billion in today’s dollars. Last year’s disaster cost about $20 billion.