Rep. Crawford says farmer aid ‘sending a message’ to the world

Rep. Crawford says farmer aid ‘sending a message’ to the world
Written by: George Jared 
Published by: Talk Business and Politics 

President Donald Trump has authorized the United States Department of Agriculture to release up to $12 billion in aid programs to farmers impacted by his ongoing trade wars with other countries including China and the European Union. U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, told Talk Business & Politics he continues to support the president on tariffs and trade negotiations.

The USDA aid program that was announced is one tool the federal government can utilize to help farmers as commodity prices have dropped significantly since the trade wars began several months ago.

“The president is sending a message to the global community that we are not going to get kicked around any more … this is a long game,” he said.

Soybean prices have dropped 20% since the trade war started, and it is the top crop grown in Arkansas and especially in Crawford’s First Congressional District. The congressman said prices have ticked upwards in recent days and could be back to about $9 per bushel by the start of the harvest. Crawford said he still believes that China, the largest importer of soybeans in the world, will have to start buying U.S. soybeans. The Chinese haven’t been buying U.S. beans according to published reports since the U.S. announced billions of dollars in tariffs against the Asian nation.

There are three primary soybean producing countries in the world – the U.S., Brazil, and Argentina, Crawford said. A drought decimated the Argentinian crop, leaving Brazil and the U.S. as the only options for the Chinese, he said. At some point, the Brazilian beans will run out and they’ll be forced to buy ours, he said.

“They’ve got to have them,” he said.

To qualify for direct and indirect payments through the aid package, crops prices would have to drop through reference points, and right now the only crop that would qualify is rice, he said. Direct payments aren’t typically made for rice, but indirect payments in the form of the government buying rice are possible, he said.

Crawford isn’t sure if any of the government aid package will have to be utilized, he said. Commodity markets seem to gaining steam and he thinks that may solve the problem before the harvest begins later next month.

“We are seeing the markets move in an upward trajectory,” he said.

Soybean prices have traded as high as $10.50 per bushel earlier this year. Two weeks ago, those prices fell to $8.30 per bushel and were expected to drop further due to the escalating trade rhetoric. On Wednesday (July 25), August bushels rose $2.75 to land at $8.60, and September bushels ended the day at $8.66, also a slight uptick, according to Farm Futures.

Crawford’s Democratic opponent this fall, Chintan Desai, said the administration is to blame for the current crisis, which he contends could have been avoided.

“The ongoing trade war is a terrible idea for farmers, and the president refuses to back down—forcing his administration to bail out farmers from a situation he created,” Desai said on his Twitter account Tuesday.

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