Dairy farmers in Minnesota sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue this week arguing that the government aid is not enough to offset losses from the trade war.
Nearly one out of 10 Minnesota dairy farmers have exited the business in the past 12 months, according to the Minnesota Milk Producers Association, and retaliatory tariffs by China and others against the U.S. have exacerbated an already dire situation.
Milk producers expect to lose up to $1.5 billion in revenue because of trade wars, and farm aid pledged to them in the first round of President Donald Trump’s “Market Facilitation Program” amounts to $127 million, not quite 10 percent of the revenue loss.
“It is not time to leave America’s dairy farmers short of whole due to the economic harm placed on them by retaliatory tariffs,” Lucas Sjostrom, executive director of the trade group known simply as Minnesota Milk, wrote in the letter.
Dairy farmers across the country have argued for months that the aid package doesn’t do enough for them. A second round of aid is being scheduled, and Sjostrom said dairy farmers in Minnesota are “pleased” about that, but milk prices were barely break even at the beginning of the year and dropped by 75 cents per hundredweight over the course of 2018.
For other types of farmers in Minnesota, it’s still too early to say how the aid program is playing out. Much of the aid promised by the U.S. Department of Agriculture will go to soybean farmers, but harvest this fall has been delayed and farmers cannot apply for the aid until their crops are in.
Farmers have other things on their minds at the moment, with the ground about to freeze for the winter, said Brent Renneke, of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association.
“In addition to actual harvest, farmers are also prioritizing tillage and fall nitrogen application before the ground freezes over,” Renneke said.