August was a very big month for agriculture with policy developments taking place or looming in Washington as corn and soybean harvest approaches.
President Trump announced Aug. 27 he reached a “trade understanding” with Mexico and said he might toss out the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and leave Canada out of the new pact. Officials from Canada soon visited Washington to begin trade talks with the U.S., but it’s unclear if there will be a totally new trade deal or a new-and-improved NAFTA.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue also announced details on a multi-billion-dollar aid package to assist farmers suffering difficulties due to what the agency terms as “unjustified” trade retaliation by other nations.
The USDA will authorize up to $12 billion in funding for the Market Facilitation Program covering corn, cotton, dairy, hog, sorghum, soybean and wheat producers starting Sept. 4. Another $200 million will be made available to develop foreign markets for U.S. agricultural products.
Additionally, the current Farm Bill expires Sept. 30. The full conference committee was expected to hold its first public meeting Sept. 5 and start reconciling sticking points between the House and Senate versions. There are reportedly still deep differences between lawmakers on the nutrition, conservation and commodity provisions.