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USDA's trade mitigation plan 'substantially short' of making growers whole

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has developed a short-term relief strategy to protect agricultural producers in response to losses from the current trade war. As announced last month, USDA will authorize up to $12 billion in programs.

“We are still analyzing the details of this plan, but at first glance it appears USDA’s mitigation efforts will fall substantially short of making fruit, vegetable and tree nut farmers whole for the damages they have incurred, and will continue to incur, as a result of the trade war with China," said Tom Nassif, president and chief executive officer of Western Growers. 

"Even so, our fresh produce growers never expected the mitigation plan to fully make up for lost trade revenues and market shares, which is why we submitted a series of solutions the administration could adopt to ease the burdens of its trade policies on the industry," he said. "While we are pleased with their creative approach to targeting aid to exporters, we are disappointed that many of our other ideas are not reflected in USDA’s mitigation plan.

“According to a study released by U.C. Davis economists, the direct trade losses for U.S. fruit, vegetable and tree nuts growers conservatively top $2.6 billion," he said. "When the price impacts on the domestic market are considered, the magnitude of damage exceeds $3.3 billion. These figures only represent the immediate consequences; the longer term effects will be much more catastrophic, and potentially permanent. While our fresh produce is the highest quality in the world, farmers in competing countries can and will fill the vacuum created by the trade war. Once China and other export markets find replacement suppliers, it will be extremely difficult to dislodge them.

“Time is of the essence, and only one outcome will preserve our family farms: a rapid and successful conclusion of our trade conflicts and the restoration of commerce between American farmers and buyers across the globe,” said Nassif.