Ag Notes

No Good Way for Perdue to Protect Farmers

 

President Trump has asked the Secretary of Agriculture to protect U.S. farmers from the trade dispute with China. However, there aren't many options for Sonny Perdue.

Last week Sonny Perdue was on the road for his second RV tour of farm country. His first tour was last summer. That's when he told producers he would be their salesman to the world. Now he's being asked to be their protector in the face of trade restrictions, some in place others proposed, as President Trump sets about rectifying what he sees as unfair trade with China. However, Perdue isn't saying what he'll do for farmers and there may be a good reason that's the case says University of Illinois Ag Policy Specialist Jonathan Coppess, "There are not a lot options for the Secretary when it comes to the covered commodities."

Typically USDA lawyers will explain there is flexibility in the original CCC charter act and the general powers to improve prices. Yet, because Congress has stepped in and directed spending for commodities via programs like ARC and PLC, the Secretary's administrative powers are limited. Most of the heavy lifting to protect farmers from any trade war blowback then, says Coppess, would need to be done by Congress.