USDA to purchase US$500M of produce as part of trade war assistance
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) says it will purchase more than US$200 million of apples and cherries as part of its assistance programs to growers impacted by tariffs implemented by countries like China.
A total of a little more than US$500 million will be spent on fruits, vegetables and tree nuts under the Agricultural Marketing Service’s (AMS) Food Purchase and Distribution Program, which has a total budget of US$1.2 billion.
The Food Purchase and Distribution Program is one of three programs – along with the Market Facilitation Program (MFP) and the Agricultural Trade Promotion Program (ATP) – with a total value of US$12 billion recently announced for farmers affected by “unjustified retaliation by foreign nations.”
China has implemented heavy tariffs on all U.S. agricultural exports, while Mexico has set duties for imports of some fruits including apples.
The amounts of commodities to be purchased through the AMS program are based on “an economic analysis of the damage caused by unjustified tariffs imposed on the crops listed below,” the USDA said.
“Their damages will be adjusted based on several factors and spread over several months in response to orders placed by states participating in the FNS nutrition assistance programs,” it said.
The USDA has set aside US$111.5 million for sweet cherries, US$93.4 million for apples, US$85.2 million for pistachios, US$63.3 million for almonds US$55.6 for fresh oranges, US$48.2 million for grapes, US$44.5 million for potatoes, US$34.6 million for walnuts and US$32.8 million for cranberries.
For cherries and almonds, the USDA said the program details are yet to be defined, and these two commodities were not included in the program’s US$1.2 billion budget.
For fruits, vegetables and tree nuts, assistance was also announced for apricots, blueberries, figs, grapefruit, hazelnuts, kidney beans, lemons/limes, Macadamia nuts, Navy beans, orange juice, pears, peas, pecans, plums/prunes, strawberries and sweetcorn.
“Early on, the President instructed me, as Secretary of Agriculture, to make sure our farmers did not bear the brunt of unfair retaliatory tariffs,” said Perdue.
Perdue said that after careful analysis, this strategy has been formulated to mitigate the trade damages sustained by farmers.
“President Trump has been standing up to China and other nations, sending the clear message that the United States will no longer tolerate their unfair trade practices, which include non-tariff trade barriers and the theft of intellectual property,” he said.
“In short, the President has taken action to benefit all sectors of the American economy – including agriculture – in the long run.
“It’s important to note all of this could go away tomorrow, if China and the other nations simply correct their behavior. But in the meantime, the programs we are announcing today buys time for the President to strike long-lasting trade deals to benefit our entire economy.”