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Delaware farmers weigh in on plans for emergency tariff relief

Delaware Public Media

First State farmers are weighing in on planned measures to blunt the financial impact of President Donald Trump’s trade war.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will give up to $12 billion dollars in emergency relief to American farmers affected by retaliatory tariffs. The USDA plans to make payments to farmers who grow crops like corn and soybeans, as well as dairy farmers. It will also buy some surplus products and donate them to food banks.

Jay Baxter primarily grows corn and soybeans on his Sussex County farm. Those products were targeted by China after Trump put taxes on Chinese imports into the U.S.

Baxter said he’s glad this help is available if he needs it. But he doesn’t necessarily want to take it.

“Being a conservative that many farmers are in Delaware, none of us like to reach for a handout," he said. "You know we feel it just kind of goes against our nature.”

Baxter said he anticipates tariffs will start impacting his business when he starts harvesting his crops in late August. Delaware Agriculture Secretary Michael Scuse says the First State has lost about $28 million so far because of the corn and soybean tariffs.

Walter Hopkins owns the Green Acres Farm in Lewes. He said low milk prices are hurting his business and wants to know more about the aid.

“Well, we don’t know enough about the emergency relief yet," he said. "But it’s definitely going to be a help, but we need more than that. It’s desperate out there in the dairy industry right now.”

The National Milk Producers Federation supports the emergency relief.

Chris Galen, Senior Vice President of Communications with the National Milk Producers Federation, said dairy futures prices fell after Mexico and China slapped retaliatory tariffs on American products in June.

Delaware Agriculture Secretary Michael Scuse said it appears farmers can start signing up for assistance in September.

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