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Delaware farmers on edge as trade war uncertainty drags on

Delaware Public Media

Trade uncertainties are leaving Delaware farmers feeling very uneasy heading into 2019.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is expected to announce this month if they’ll give more tariff relief to U.S. farmers.

The Trump administration announced in late August up to $12 billion in aid for farmers impacted by retaliatory tariffs.

Data provided to the nonprofit Environmental Working Group shows more than 100 people and farms in Delaware received bailouts between the start of September and the end of October. The amounts range from $8 dollars to $13,050. The data from EWG just covers those two months, totaling $356 million nationally, less than half of what's been reportedly paid out.

State Agriculture Secretary Michael Scuse said markets are down and production costs are up. Scuse said the dairy, corn, and soybeans markets have been battered by the tariffs.

“Many producers are not going to be to stand a 2019 year production-wise and price-wise like they’ve experienced in 2018,” he said.

Scuse said some farms may not survive this trade crisis if 2019 is anything like 2018.

“The dairy industry has been extremely hit hard," he said. "You know, we’re already lost a couple of our dairy farms here in Delaware.”

Scuse says farmers hope trade tensions with China cool and they learn more about how the new NAFTA agreement could impact trade between the U.S. and Mexico and Canada.

He said there’s still uncertainty about what’s in the new NAFTA bill and whether Congress will approve it. And the U.S. and China have struggled to reach a compromise on tariffs, with China vastly reducing U.S. agricultural purchases.

Farmers are also waiting to see if Congress passes a new Farm Bill before the end of the year or starts from scratch next year.