The Trump administration’s new $16 billion round of trade-war aid for farmers will dramatically shift bailout money toward corn and cotton growers, according to an analysis by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s former chief economist.
The department didn’t provide details of compensation for individual commodities — which some grower groups criticized as inequitable last year — when it announced this year’s trade assistance plan last week.
Instead, the USDA released payment rates for each U.S. county, with all farmers in a county to receive the same rate per acre planted with an eligible crop. The department didn’t disclose its assessments of trade damage each commodity sustained from the tariff wars or other details of how the local rates were determined.
Joseph Glauber, the department’s former chief economist, was able to estimate payment rates for each commodity by comparing trade aid paid out in 2018 with what would have been paid out had the 2019 county payment rates been in effect. He used county-level planting data available by crop for 2018 to develop the simulation.
He cautioned the results are only approximations of assistance by commodity type in this year’s trade aid because there may be some some differences in how much of each crop is planted in a county in 2019 versus 2018.
Payments to cotton growers will double to $1.1 billion from $554 million last year, while corn growers will get $5.1 billion, surging from $192 million last year, Glauber projected. Soybean growers’ payments will drop to $5.6 billion from $7.3 billion last year, according to the simulation.
“It goes more toward corn and cotton, but the payments are bigger this year so it doesn’t take that much away from soybeans,” said Glauber, now a senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington. The Trump administration announced plans for $16 billion in overall trade assistance this year.
USDA spokesmen didn’t respond to a request for comment.