Alto congressman writes bill to help farmers
Congressman Ralph Abraham, M.D., R-Alto, has introduced legislation to help soybean farmers better access a program designed to offset losses caused by Chinese tariffs.
The US Department of Agriculture announced the Market Facilitation Program earlier this year that offers payments to soybean farmers based on losses to their harvested acres incurred by Chinese tariffs.
However, not all soybean farmers have access to this program. In Louisiana, for example, many soybean farmers have either harvested with nowhere to take their beans or been unable to harvest at all.
Dr. Abraham’s bill, HR 7147, would amend the MFP to allow payments in some circumstances based on “planted acres” instead of “harvested acres.”
This change will allow soybean farmers who could not take their crop to market the ability to still participate in the tariff relief program.
“Louisiana soybean farmers cannot be left out of the MFP. The problem they are facing is not of their making, and they should not be forced to bear the heaviest burden caused by market disruptions,” said Dr. Abraham, a member of the House Agriculture Committee. “The USDA told our soybean farmers that it would have their backs during these trade negotiations, and this bill ensures that the USDA will be able to honor that commitment. Congress should do the right thing by these hard-working farmers and pass this bill.”
Soybeans that typically are grown in the Midwest and shipped to the West Coast for export to China have, instead, been shipped down the Mississippi River to go to other markets. Storage elevators in Louisiana are full of out-of-state beans.
The result has been that many Louisiana farmers faced an impossible choice of harvesting without a place to take their beans, or allowing them to die in the fields because there’s nowhere to take their beans. Either way, they are currently unable to participate in the MFP, the very program designed to help soybean farmers through the trade disruptions.