Courtesy of Lindsay Greiner, Iowa Soybean Association President, Keota
Today’s announcement of additional trade aid assistance for U.S. farmers recognizes the severe economic damage being done because of the ongoing trade war. It’s also welcomed news. When farmers can’t make sales, they can’t earn an income. Yet bills still need to be paid. This will help pay some bills.
The plan announced today raises several questions that will take time to answer. First and foremost is to what amount the program will benefit Iowa farmers and how it may impact planting decisions. The devil is in the details but ultimately, those details must continue to reflect the true damage to soybeans, the commodity most impacted by the ongoing trade war.
Short-term, stair-stepped subsidies are a poor remedy for trade. They stimulate production but not sales and therefore do little to undo the long-term log jam caused by not selling soybeans to destinations like China, the world’s No. 1 customer. Today’s announcement could very well bump planted soybean acres and thus production, almost assuring that the pile of soybeans will not be reduced.
Farmers have been reassured time and time again over the past year that results will be achieved, and agreements made with key trading partners. Yet it’s been all talk, and no action. It’s well past time for Congress and the Administration to put aside partisan differences, break the policy gridlock and get to work on issues that truly matter for the American people.
It can start by approving the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement and trade pacts with Japan and the European Union and reinstating the biodiesel tax credit. It must also put serious time and resources into market access programs like those developed by the U.S. soybean industry, helping replace at least some of the lost sales experienced by the lack of trade with China.
Not funded by the soybean checkoff
The Iowa Soybean Association (www.iasoybeans.com) develops policies and programs that help Iowa’s more than 40,000 soybean farmers expand profit opportunities while promoting environmentally sensitive production using the soybean checkoff and other resources. The association was founded in 1964 and is governed by an elected volunteer board of 22 farmers. It strives to be honest and transparent, fact-based and data driven and committed to environmental stewardship, collaborations and partnerships.