Just 24 hours after Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue tried to shut the door on Market Facilitation Program payments for 2020, President Donald Trump kicked the door back open on Twitter.
In all caps Friday morning, the president tweeted there is definitely a chance farmers could again see MFP payments in 2020.
"IF OUR FORMALLY TARGETED FARMERS NEED ADDITIONAL AID UNTIL SUCH TIME AS THE TRADE DEALS WITH CHINA, MEXICO, CANADA AND OTHERS FULLY KICK IN, THAT AID WILL BE PROVIDED BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, PAID FOR OUT OF THE MASSIVE TARIFF MONEY COMING INTO THE USA!"
Trump's tweet came just a day after Perdue sought to tamp down expectations for a third year of MFP payments at the USDA Outlook conference. The secretary reiterated comments he has made all winter that he does not expect an MFP payment for 2020.
"The market will handle by-and-by, the pricing of products and commodities as we go forward," Perdue said. "Again, if we have other trade disruptions that may be a possibility of another Market Facilitation Program, but right now it doesn't look like we'll do that with the phase-one agreement and moving forward.
"So I would not anticipate, and I'm not advising any farmer to expect a Market Facilitation Program at this point. They have got to farm for the market and what it's telling them and what their capabilities are from a production perspective."
USDA's outlook for exports in 2020 did not show a significant rise due to the phase-one trade deal with China. USDA projects $139 billion in exports in fiscal year 2020, up $4 billion from 2019 numbers. That's significantly lower than the expectation that China would buy $40 billion in agricultural products from the U.S.
In USDA's grain and livestock outlook reports released Friday, the department did raise soybean exports 225 million bushels to 2.05 billion, and raised corn exports 375 million bushels to 2.1 billion bushels.
USDA also raised exports for beef, pork, broilers and turkey products as well, citing greater trade opportunities not only in China, but also Japan because of lower tariffs there as well.
Last May, President Trump expressed frustration on Twitter as trade talks with China began to stall and implied a new round of trade aid would come for farmers. Within days USDA announced plans were being made for a second year of MFP payments.
Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com
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