A second round of payments for farmers hurt by the trade war with China is still on hold.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Steve Censky was in Iowa on Thursday to talk with agriculture leaders and farmers. He says the top issues they discussed were trade and the Market Facilitation Program (MFP).
The first round of the nearly $12 billion in payments doled out $1.65 a bushel for soybeans, a cent per bushel for corn, and eight dollars a head for hogs. Capped at $125,000 per farmer.
The USDA has delayed revealing any updates since early December.
But with farmers planning for the next crop year, there is a need to know if the second half of payments will be available.
Iowa Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Julie Kenney was with Censky, she appreciates the access USDA leadership has given Iowa producers.
She says farmers were happy with how smoothly and quickly the first round of payments went, even though they would prefer to have open trade.
Kenney says, "I think USDA understands the need for this, I think they've understood that all along, but they have to continue to work with OMB and the rest of the Administration to make it happen so any messages that we can give them to take back to help facilitate that should help. But we just need to see it moving and we need to see it now."
The delays are due in part to the recent trade truce with China, MFP was sent to the budget office again to see if it would be impacted by the 90-day deal. Since then, agriculture has seen purchases from China, including one this past week for more than a million metric tons of soybeans.
But for some farmers, the prices have already impacted their operations.
Censky says they are pushing for the second round of payments, "We're saying that the need is there, the circumstances haven't changed so Secretary Perdue plans on visiting and taking the issue to the president."
Farmers have until January 15 to apply for MFP.