Uncertainty has continued this year regarding many agricultural issues. Flooding throughout the Midwest in the spring held back planting. Questions remain regarding critical trade agreements like the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement. The Administration also made new announcements on Market Facilitation Program payments, as trade discussions continue with China and other trading partners.
There are many questions still left to be answered on key policy issues affecting farmers and rural businesses. As a farmer-owned cooperative, Land O'Lakes continues to advocate every day on issues affecting our industry – including the need for open trade, and the need for commonsense disaster aid for farmers. Here is what we know currently and how we continue engaging with policymakers in Washington:
A top priority for Land O'Lakes and many in agriculture remains enhancing trade, and Land O'Lakes leaders have focused on promoting trade both in the media, and with policymakers in Washington. For example, Land O’Lakes, Inc. CEO Beth Ford spoke at length on Bloomberg TV detailing the critical importance of trade to the agriculture sector. You can see Beth’s appearance here.
In addition to removal of tariffs on key trading partners, approval of the USMCA agreement has remained a top policy priority for Land O’Lakes in 2019. Since the beginning of the year, Land O’Lakes and our member-owners have led more than 150 meetings with lawmakers and key Administration officials to advocate for an end to tariffs and approval of USMCA.
In addition, Land O'Lakes retail-owners made up nearly 70 of the more than 900 agricultural businesses and organizations calling for USMCA passage in a letter to Congressional leaders earlier this year.
Our advocacy efforts continued throughout the summer with fly-ins and Congressional meetings. For example, nine of our members joined the National Milk Producers Federation conference in Washington, DC and twenty members joined the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives Washington Conference this year. Land O'Lakes also was a key participant in a fly-in organized by the International Dairy Foods Association to highlight trade and other key issues with the California delegation to Congress.
Trade issues remain at the top of the agenda as our members, and leaders engage with lawmakers.
Market Facilitation Program
On May 23, USDA announced an additional $14.5 billion in funding under the Market Facilitation Program (MFP) in 2019, and later announced eligibility and payment plans. Updated information on MFP can be found on FSA's website, available here.
Land O’Lakes continues to weigh in with USDA to ensure trade assistance fully reflects the economic impact of retaliatory tariffs on U.S. producers.
Following major spring flooding and wet weather that held back planting, the U.S. House on June 3 approved a disaster assistance bill that will include disaster aid funding for agriculture, following a strong bipartisan vote in the U.S. Senate shortly before Memorial Day. This bill includes $5.5 billion, including $3 billion in direct payments for producers affected by prevented planting, flooding of grain storage, and hurricanes and wildfires that impacted many parts of the nation last year.
USDA announced signup under the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program beginning June 17. For more information, contact your FSA office or go here.
Resources and Analysis
Earlier this year, economists at the University of Illinois-Champaign’s farmdoc daily blog examined MFP, the disaster aid package in Congress and producer decisions. Their analysis is available here.
The American Farm Bureau Federation also examined the lay of the land with this analysis.
Many questions remain to be answered on the trade and policy front, and the Land O’Lakes government relations team is working every day together with our trade associations to gather information and updates.
We are engaged with policymakers and their staff members on a daily basis, and always encourage you to pass on your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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