ROCHESTER, Minn. (Reuters) – US government J. Walt Hagood, a Texas cotton farmer, pays $ 145 for losses related to trade policies President U. Donald Trump. But Minnesota soybean farmer Betsy Jensen will only receive $ 35 acres.
PHOTO FILE: Paul and Vanessa Kummer check the soybeans on their farm near Colfax, North Dakota, U., August 6, 2019. REUTERS / Dan Koeck / File Photo
Sales of both farmers have tackled Trump trade war with China. No one understands why the Department of Agriculture Agriculture (USDA) is giving Hagood so much as Jensen – which grows the most valuable agricultural exports in the nation, where China was its biggest buyer.
“I am grateful,” said Hagood, 64, for the help. “But honestly, I'm not sure that anyone understands how this is working now.” T
Sure Jensen: “It doesn't make any sense,” she said, noting that soybean farmers in other counties were paid much more than her.
At the direction of Trump, the US Department of Agriculture has put $ 28 billion in trade aid for farmers over the past two years – $ 12 billion last year and another $ 16 billion announced this July. and being paid out now.
Reuters interviews with more than three dozen growers have led to confusion and bite to farmers across the country on the various payments in the second round. Farmers also complained about software and poor training problems for local USDA employees, who are experiencing difficulties in processing applications and payments, said farmers and government workers.
The USDA acknowledged “gels” in the application process in a statement to Reuters and said it was working to accelerate approval and payments.
The different rates of compensation come from changes to USDA farm farm aid formula because it wants the White House to catch farmers – a main voting block for Trump – whose income is falling in the trading war. Farmers were among the worst problems of Chinese revenge tariffs. Soybeans shipments to China, for example, fell to 16 years in 2018.
In the first $ 12 billion of trade assistance, farmers were paid on top, based on estimated lost sales to China: $ 1.65 per bushel for soybeans; one penny for corn, not widely sold to China in 2017; and 6 cents the pound of cotton. The farmers were growing out of them because of the increasing payments for cereal crops, cotton and other crops, which argued that USDA paid soybean farmers at their expense.
Payments to corn and cotton farmers are expected to increase under the second round of aid. Estimated payments are to cereal growers, when they are on average in each U. county, 14 times higher than in the first round of assistance, according to USDA's explanation of its methodology. Cotton producer payments increased fourfold.
Instead of paying different crops by crop grown, the new farmer methodology pays based on the estimated impact of trade policy on all agriculture in their county – irrespective of which plant a single farmer does.
Other spin: The estimated impacts on certain counties are based on their export potential over the last decade – long before the trading war began. USDA said that it would have to look at a longer timeframe to calculate trade-related losses. USDA also said that it wanted to influence plantation decisions – as farmers expect soybeans to check more trade checks.
The agency also acknowledged, however, that some of the elements of the new formula were determined by errors which were considered to have changed certain farmers in the first round of aid.
“There were a number of factors from last year's programs that we wanted to correct,” USDA Chief Economist Rob Johansson said in a July call to reporters.
Hagood is on the board of directors for the Texas Farm Bureau. He said he attended meetings with USDA regional officials, who said that more per acre was paid primarily to the areas that grow mainly cotton because USDA wanted to "make a little out of what paid". they are cotton farmers ”in the first round.
Jensen, 43, and her family grow soybeans in Marshall County, Minnesota. Prior to the trading war they were mainly sold on China's export market, like most of the soybeans grown on the northwest edge of Midwest farm zone.
The USDA tried hard to make the payouts fair, the agency's secretary, Sonny Perdue, said in a statement last month. “We did everything we could for everyone,” he said.
COMPUTER COURSES AND UNAUTHORIZED QUESTIONS
As well as confusion over various payments to farmers, the second wave of assistance has caused administrative problems that delayed the processing of applications, said farmers and government workers.
Farmers reported that computer systems were hitting and poor training of workers handling their applications. Farmers also said that they could not get satisfactory explanations as to why payment rates vary significantly by county – between $ 15 and $ 150 per acre.
In a statement to Reuters, the USDA confirmed that there were problems with the software used to register farmers in the offices of the Farm Services Agency, which is implementing the new program. He blamed training deficits on the limited time the agency had to prepare.
Perdue gave the latest details on the aid program on 25 July. The USDA said that it had trained all state and county field offices but that there was not enough time to “address every issue and case before 29 July,” the day it started taking applications. The agency said that they had encountered similar issues in the first round of aid last year and adapted them.
At one office of the USDA Farm Service Agency in Iowa, employees compiled a domestic cheat sheet for lack of guidance from Washington, according to a worker there who spoke on condition that they were anonymous. The worker said that the team spent 90 minutes training one day before the program was implemented, but he still did not know how to answer many of the farmers' questions.
For Minnesota grain farmer, Mike Ingvalson, 41, the latest aid round should be about $ 19,000 for his family's farming operation, which represents about one-tenth of their farm income this year. But he has problems when he tries to apply.
The first time he went into his local USDA office, the computer program fell. On the second visit, staff were unable to process their application. Three different rates will be paid for the growth of soybeans and cereal crops in four different counties – but no one told him why.
“I can't get a direct answer about anything now,” said Ingvalson.
Reporting by P.J Huffstutter; Edited by Caroline Stauffer and Brian Thevenot
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