Did you hear Minnesota’s First District Congressman Jim Hagedorn recent statement on the CARES Act ( The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act)
“The agriculture relief package announced by President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is a much needed first step to help farmers and agri-businesses overcome the pause in our economy due to the coronavirus. [SNIP] “Had Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats not stripped $20 billion in agriculture funding out of the CARES Act, the agriculture package would have been far more substantive. I don’t know what the speaker was thinking,
Hmmm … last week’s statement is in contrast to Congressman Hagedorn’s March 27 press release when the only mention of agriculture relief was a faint reference that the “USDA, including the Commodity Credit Corporation, to backstop farmers” … no mention that Nancy Pelosi was targeting the agricultural industry … no mention that Congressman Hagedorn wanted more money.
Congressman Hagedorn is complaining about a $2-trillion-plus coronavirus response package because it doesn’t spend enough. Let’s remember that the CARES Act provides approximately $48.9 billion for United States Department of Agriculture programs. An important portion of this funding, $14 billion, is allocated as additional funding authority for the USDA Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) which President Trump has used to direct payments to agri-business to offset financial losses caused by his failing trade war policies.
Yet this is an election year and as Lawrence R. Jacobs, the director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at University of Minnesota said “This is just an extraordinary and unprecedented opportunity in the modern era for a president to dole out cash,” predicting that Mr. Trump would soon be trumpeting it as part of his re-election campaign. And Congressman Hagedorn has a lot of farms in the First District, so maybe no one should be surprised by his statement.
Yet, this is the same man who when asked at Fillmore County townhall event about SNAP and 782 Fillmore County children getting kicked off the hot school lunch program, gave this dismissive response “People should fend for themselves.” [Read more : http://mnpoliticalroundtable.com/2020/02/19/mn01-jim-hagedorn-advocates-for-beagle-brigades-funding-while-speaking-out-against-funding-school-lunch-and-medicaid-programs/ ]
So Congressman Hagedorn is blaming Democrat Nancy Pelosi for a bill that was written in the Republican-controlled Senate … which was passed without any Republican voting NO. Admittedly, there was debate in the Senate about the amount of funding that should be made available for the agricultural industry … led by Republican Senators John Hoeven (ND), John Thune (SD), Jerry Moran (KS), and Pat Roberts (KS). The Democrats expressed concerns that the formula that the Agriculture Department had used to provide the Trump Administration’s prior use of MFP failed crop farmers resulted in some growers had gotten no assistance under trade aid … so how can you trust them now. In the end, the Senate agreed to the lower amount. Further, the Democrats wanted an increase in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits — “We can’t leave out people who are struggling to eat,” said Debbie Stabenow (MI).
With roughly 22 million workers having filed unemployment claims since mid-March, you should be able to appreciate the Democrats concern over SNAP. Adults in Minnesota without children in SNAP earn receive an average monthly SNAP benefit of only $187 per month (roughly $6/day) — not a lot to live on when faced with other living expenses (mortgage/rent, health insurance, utilities, etc.)
One would think that Congressman Hagedorn, who is running for re-election, probably realizes that people who seek SNAP benefits are not likely to have extra cash sitting around to give for political campaigns … but that lobbyists have money. And in the January-March fundraising quarter, Washington’s Capital Hill Club was a great place to meet potential donors … and Congressman Hagedorn held SIX events there … and the results reveal a good haul … such as contributions from PLAINS COTTON GROWERS, INC. PAC ($2,000), SOUTHERN MINNESOTA BEET SUGAR COOPERATIVE ($2,000), PORK PAC ($1,000), WESTERN SUGAR COOPERATIVE PAC ($1,000), NATIONAL COTTON COUNCIL OF AMERICA COMMITTEE ($2,000), AMERICAN SHEEP INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION ($500), AMERICAN CRYSTAL SUGAR COMPANY PAC ($2,500), MICHIGAN SUGAR COMPANY GROWERS PAC ($1,500), MINN CORN PAC ($1,000), and other agricultural related Political Action Committees.
OK … back to last week’s announcement, let us remember that the initial concern was when would the details be released of what USDA was going to do, and after several times in recent days President Donald Trump had indicated that the Covid-19 farmer aid would be announced soon … it finally happened on April 17 — almost a month after the funding was approved.
Thus, the obvious question, when “Sonny” Perdue and President Trump announced their use of taxpayer dollars, where did it go ? Well, it seems that the big beneficiaries will be livestock producers — $5.1 billion to beef cattle, $2.9 billion to dairy farmers, and $1.6 billion to hog producers. Another $3.9 billion will be targeted to row crop producers, $2.1 billion will go to specialty crop producers, and $500 million will go to products deemed “other crops.”
Hmmm … so this seems like some help for the cattle industry …. but ya gotta remember that Donald “Art of the Deal” Trump and “Sonny” Perdue announced in February that the USDA had lifted the suspension of the importation of raw Brazilian beef products into the United States. [Read more about that here http://mnpoliticalroundtable.com/2020/02/25/mn01-jim-hagedorn-is-silent-as-trumps-mbaga-opens-markets-for-imports/ ] Hmmm … President Trump is opening our markets to Brazil while giving taxdollars to bail out ranchers.
Worse yet is that meat processing industry has been experiencing temporary closures at some of America’s largest meat processing plants — including Smithfield, Cargill, Sanderson Farms, Tyson, JBS and Maple Leaf have all closed or significantly decreased output at U.S. facilities — affecting beef, poultry and pork supply chains. ( Sidenote : The JBS pork plant is located in Worthington, in Minnesota’s First District, has a reported 23 cases of COVID19)
And if you thought that at least China had agreed to start buying from the US (didn’t you hear Donald “Trade Wars are easy to win” Trump tell us that) … they wouldn’t need MFP payments this year (that’s what “Sonny” told us. In fact, Perdue had signaled for months that he did not want any type of government aid to impact row crop plantings.)
Well, it turns out that Chinese have already fully booked their soybean shipments in May this year with the large majority of the 9.5 million metric tons sourced from Brazil. Further, Brazil is having a bumper crop and will be looking to expand their exports to Europe. Seems like the “Make Brazil Great” campaign is working !
And with the prices dropping on commodities, there is concern that China and other buyers won’t honor the prices that they had already agreed to … like cotton that was purchased at 75 cents with the market now 55 cents.
This is a mess …. that cannot be blamed on Nancy Pelosi.
Another area of concern to Minnesota farmers was renewable fuels — ethanol gets nothing. Even though an oil price war has forced ethanol plants to shut down — further depressing corn prices– the Trump Administration plan doesn’t include any assistance for biofuels. Remember, that the Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency expanded the number of waivers it gives to oil refiners, allowing them to use less than the required amount of corn-based ethanol to make gasoline. About 33% of Minnesota’s corn crop went to ethanol production, according to a 2018 Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association report.
Nobody is happy with the situation … ya gotta think that Paul Freeman, a soybean farmer from Starbuck MN sentiment has not changed “The plain old truth is that Donald Trump is killing the American farmer” [Reference https://www.startribune.com/trump-faces-test-in-rural-minnesota/566685151/
Sad that Congressman Hagedorn cannot (or refuses to) see the failures of the Trump Administration … and instead is left to blame Nancy Pelosi. No doubt, candidate Hagedorn will continue bashing her on the campaign trail … as Minnesota farmers, ranchers, and consumer wait for more details of the “Sonny” plan … ’cause it ain’t gonna be pretty. But at least Congressman Hagedorn got to enjoy the “wining and dining” at the Capital Hill Club.
For more information on the $48.9 Billion CARES Act agricultural funding, read Kent Thiesse’s column https://www.thelandonline.com/news/farm-program-what-the-cares-act-means-for-agriculture/article_c0ac1096-8016-11ea-8580-c714262f2135.html