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Farm Economist says the USDA has Ways to Aid Domestic Producers During a Trade War

Soybean field in Ohi0
Ohio Soybean Council
Farm field in Ohio

President Donald Trump wants the Agriculture Department at the ready to help U.S. farmers if a trade war starts putting them in financial trouble. There are programs on the books for doing that -- though they were last used before most Americans were born.


Sunny Purdue, USDA
Credit USDA
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Purdue

In a trade war against China, the EU, and Canada, America’s farm economy could take a hit.

“According to our estimates, farm incomes in Ohio would fall 59 percent -- roughly going from $63,000 a year down to like $24,000," said Ben Brown, a farm management program coordinator in the Ohio State University Agricultural, Environmental and Developmental Economics Department.

Brown says primary legislation for farm support came in 1938 and 1949. It's been updated through farm bills since --except for the financial disaster provisions, which creates a problem. “Programs exist but there’s not any money to them. So what would happen is the programs would be triggered, but the money would come out of sort of general USDA funds.”

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says his department will have programs ready if needed.