Illinois Senator Dick Durbin is accusing the US Department of Agriculture of not purposely not providing aid to Illinois soybean farmers. Durbin accused the USDA on Monday of overpaying southern cotton growers, whose market losses were much smaller during spring flooding and the Trump Administration’s ongoing tariff battle with China this past year. Durbin, who sits on the Senate agriculture committee, made the statement after the USDA distributed the final round of aid to farmers affected by the ongoing trade war with China.
The $14.5 billion of payments came from an aid package called the Market Facilitation Program, which aimed to cushion the blow of international trade disputes on farm income, according to Capital News Illinois. A report published by Democrats who sit on the ag committee showed that southern cotton farmers received more per acre in aid than Midwest soybean farmers. Illinois ranked 6th in aid payments to farmers behind 5 southern states.
First-round payments in Illinois averaged $69 per acre, with the highest county, Piatt, at $87. In contrast, 163 counties in those five southern states saw payments above $87 per acre, including 13 that saw the maximum $150 per acre. In Morgan County, payments averaged $73 per acre, Greene saw $71, Scott was at $69, Cass was $65, Brown $67, and Pike was lowest at $62.
Aid payments overall paint a different picture, though, according to USDA figures. After the first two rounds, the top five states receiving money for non-specialty crops, which include soybeans and cotton, were Iowa, Illinois, Texas, Kansas and Minnesota.
Soybean exports fell by $9 billion, a drop of 75 percent, compared to cotton exports which fell just 6 percent, a decrease of $54 million. Illinois farmers received nearly $1.1 billion in the first two rounds of payments. Illinois soybean production also fell last year due to weather by 20%. Last month, U.S. and Chinese officials agreed to the first phase of a trade deal that will see Beijing increase its imports of American agriculture products by $32 billion. Brazil announced yesterday that it would be taking in 50 million bushels of U.S. Soybean exports, but it did little to help market prices.