Local Ag Producers React to $12 Billion Financial Aid Package

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it would be doling out up to $12 billion to help farmers affected by the tariffs and trade war. Local ag producers give their input on the aid. 

Steelee Fischbacher, the director of policy for the Texas Wheat Producers Board Association, said it is not the farmers’ fault they are in this position. “We were kind of dragged into these trade disputes, and so now, we need the aid based on the impact they are feeling.”

Fischbacher explains the package has three different programs, one that directly aids farmers who have seen depressed prices, another that focuses on distribution and a third for market redevelopment. 

Lawmakers across the country, like Rep. Cheri Bustos, are not satisfied with the aid. “[President Trump] gets us into a trade war, our family farmers who are already struggling will need some help, and then now the president acts like he’s the “hero” coming in with a $12 billion package to rescue them,” Bustos said. 

Rep. David Young is not happy about the bailout either. He continues, “A lot of farmers aren’t as well. It may be needed though because this is coming from the effect of what the administration has done and it’s an admonition that tariffs are harming agriculture and harming farmers and so it’s not what they prefer.”

Fischbacher told us this package is more of a band-aid than a bailout. “A bailout might infer that the farmers were at fault and now they need to be bailed out of an issue. We feel like this was self-inflicted through U.S. policies that the farmer had no choice in,” she explained.

Ag producers are glad to see some temporary relief but remain wary of the long-term effects. 

“Some of these trade disruptions are with some of our largest customers. For example, Mexico is our number one customer for wheat, and we’re currently renegotiating NAFTA,” said Fischbacher. 

Fischbacher said that if the U.S. can take steps toward solving some of these disputes, she thinks the effects will be minimal. If things continue the way they are now, there will be a huge impact not only on farmers but rural communities. 

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