Calling for another MFP

Published: Feb. 12, 2020 at 7:32 PM CST
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The final round of Market Facilitation Payments were sent out last week. And now farmers are wondering what's next.

Market prices are low and some crops are still in the field.

When these payments first came out, they were meant to assist farmers directly affected by tariff disputes. But now the program is out of money and many are still struggling.

All of the payments for the $14 billion are on the way. And while farmers say they've helped get through the rough years, markets remain a problem. And now some are calling for another program.

"This impact on demand is gonna be with us a minimum of five years when you talk to ag economers. So to think a trade deal, the market dropped, we're done with the MFP type payment, I'm not sure I like that style,” ND Farmers Union President Mark Watne said.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., pushed for the acceleration of the payments. When the payments were sent, he said farmers were prepared for new markets.

"So that assistance, along with the disaster aid, is how we get our farmers and ranchers through this tough stretch, and so we can take advantage of these new trade agreements,” Hoeven said.

However, international market prices remain low, and domestic help may be lowering as well. Just this week, the White House unveiled their 2021 budget requests that called for a nearly $2 billion cut to the USDA. Watne said farmers should be upset.

"Their projections are kind of artificially saying there's gonna be a slight increase in income, but that's not a real income. The best we can hope for is being flat in income next year, which is basically functioning at a loss,” Watne said.

And with many still trying to harvest in February, preparation and recovery are simultaneous.

Watne says, the way he sees it, the signing of those recent trade deals hasn't removed American farmers from a trade war. International markets are still mending relationships, and others have shifted their buying to other countries in the winter months.