Ag Conversations


Keeping a Pulse on Policy

Oct 11, 2018

As we continue to keep a pulse on United States tariff and trade policies, it seems like new headlines sweep across the news cycle daily. In fact, I’m almost certain that more significant developments will arise between now and the day this article is published! The latest announcements indicated the U.S. has implemented its new tariff on Chinese products, and China responded almost immediately by imposing additional tariffs on U.S. goods. On a different note, the U.S. and South Korea recently signed an updated trade deal to which the American beef market is reacting positively.

The United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA), which is replacing NAFTA, has the potential to positively affect the U.S. dairy market, as it repeals Canada’s “Class 7” dairy pricing system. However, Congress won’t vote to ratify the agreement until after the upcoming midterm elections.

In a recent statement to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said that President Trump’s approach to trade is to “stand strong for America’s interests and strike better deals.”[1] If the president continues to pursue this approach, then farmers most likely will see more developments in the trade arena. It’s important to note that as the administration implements new deals or tariffs, the commodity markets will respond in various ways — some negative and some positive.

Unveiling the USDA’s Market Facilitation Program

Many industry groups have issued statements indicating their position on the trade policies that have been proposed or implemented by the administration. One thing is certain: When it comes to the best course of action for our country and its ag producers, opinions vary across the board. In the meantime, the USDA has initiated and implemented a trade mitigation package in an attempt to soften the blows suffered by many of our producers.

The 2018 Market Facilitation Program will offer producers an advance payment on 50% of their proven 2018 production, with a potential second payment of up to another 50% of 2018 production. The possibility of a second payment will be determined by the USDA this December.

For additional insights on this topic, be sure to check out our recent article. If you have questions or would like to discuss your unique situation, contact me at or 406.265.3201.

[1] “Secretary Perdue Statement on Signing of New Korus Trade Agreement,” press release, September 24, 2018, on the USDA website,, accessed October 2018.


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