- DTN Headline News
Perdue Speaks at Classic
Friday, February 28, 2020 5:30PM CST
By Katie Dehlinger
DTN Farm Business Editor

SAN ANTONIO (DTN) -- There was an important two-letter word in President Donald Trump's tweet last week suggesting there could be a third round of trade assistance payments.

"It said 'if,'" Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told farmers at Commodity Classic here on Friday. "Let me clarify: My advice and counsel to him is the MFP payments were a trade-damage mechanism, and we used the CCC to make up for lost income based on the inability to trade. It was never designed as a price support program."

He said the agency isn't crafting a third round of Market Facilitation Program payments and advises farmers to plant for market.

"We believe we will see prices rise as these commodities start to flow again," he said.

Perdue said he explained farmers' perspective on trade to President Trump by making comparisons to the president's real estate career. He asked Trump to suppose he was building a resort, and once he got through the entire planning process, the community said it didn't want it and offered to pay his expenses.

"I said, 'You would take that money, but it wouldn't be as fulfilling as earning it through what you can create.' That's the way farmers are. They're fulfilled when they're able to grow things and get that money across the scales rather than the mailbox."

Although sales under the phase-one trade deal with China have been slow to materialize, National Sorghum Producers Chairman Dan Atkisson said the administration has passed a number of trade pacts over the past three years, and it's starting to have a positive impact.

"I'm excited and optimistic to say that as of yesterday, we had almost 500 million metric tons that was sold to an unknown destination, so draw your own conclusions, but I think we are starting to see the impact of those trade agreements," he said.

Perdue added that his Chinese counterparts have been hard at work making the technical changes to regulations that are essential to achieving the phase-one deal's target. He said he understands many farmers' "I'll believe it when I see it" attitude, but he said he's giving China the benefit of the doubt.

"I am optimistic that the phase-one numbers that have been negotiated -- hard, unilaterally enforceable numbers -- will be met, unless there are extenuating circumstances that are reasonable, and that's within our ability to determine."

He said USDA is developing a matrix to help them monitor China's compliance with the deal's parameters. While the coronavirus outbreak has disrupted the flow of goods at Chinese ports, there are signs that it's beginning to reverse directions, and Perdue said he's hopeful the disruption will be minimal.

The best thing U.S. farmers can do is focus on growing safe, reliable food, feed, fuel and fiber like they always have, he said.

"Agriculture has made enormous strides in productivity in recent years, and USDA is working to find more markets in an attempt to make sure we don't become overly dependent on any one customer," Perdue said.

"If we get trade, and we get those exports, and we don't see the markets move like we think they ought to, that ought to be a signal to us that we're producing too much of one commodity or another, " he said, reiterating that price is a function of both supply and demand.

"That's what farmers as businessmen and women have had to deal with all of their life. In many places, they arbitrage between corn and beans and other crops. But that's what I'm trying to say: If we go back to export levels that we've seen in the past and prices don't rise, we need to look at the level of productivity in order to adjust. The market is a pretty good arbiter of supply and demand."

Perdue said he expects the next World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report to reflect more of the phase-one deal as well as the coronavirus.

Katie Dehlinger can be reached at Katie.dehlinger@dtn.com

Follow her on Twitter @KatieD_DTN


blog iconDTN Blogs & Forums
DTN Market Matters Blog
Editorial Staff
Friday, February 28, 2020 12:36PM CST
Thursday, February 27, 2020 8:54AM CST
Tuesday, February 25, 2020 10:08AM CST
Technically Speaking
Editorial Staff
Monday, February 24, 2020 9:14AM CST
Tuesday, February 18, 2020 8:53AM CST
Monday, February 10, 2020 8:24AM CST
Fundamentally Speaking
Joel Karlin
DTN Contributing Analyst
Friday, February 21, 2020 8:08AM CST
Wednesday, February 19, 2020 11:04AM CST
Tuesday, February 18, 2020 10:59AM CST
DTN Ag Policy Blog
Chris Clayton
DTN Ag Policy Editor
Tuesday, February 25, 2020 2:29PM CST
Tuesday, February 25, 2020 11:19AM CST
Friday, February 21, 2020 11:36AM CST
Minding Ag's Business
Katie Behlinger
Farm Business Editor
Wednesday, February 19, 2020 12:08PM CST
Tuesday, February 11, 2020 1:24PM CST
Friday, January 17, 2020 4:55PM CST
DTN Ag Weather Forum
Bryce Anderson
DTN Ag Meteorologist and DTN Analyst
Wednesday, February 26, 2020 11:11AM CST
Friday, February 21, 2020 2:16PM CST
Thursday, February 20, 2020 12:43PM CST
DTN Ethanol Blog
Editorial Staff
Friday, February 28, 2020 11:54AM CST
Thursday, February 27, 2020 1:45PM CST
Thursday, February 20, 2020 10:15AM CST
DTN Production Blog
Pam Smith
Crops Technology Editor
Thursday, February 13, 2020 11:14AM CST
Friday, January 31, 2020 2:40PM CST
Thursday, January 9, 2020 10:55AM CST
Harrington's Sort & Cull
John Harrington
DTN Livestock Analyst
Thursday, February 27, 2020 2:55PM CST
Monday, February 24, 2020 2:43PM CST
Monday, February 17, 2020 10:48PM CST
South America Calling
Editorial Staff
Tuesday, February 11, 2020 5:13PM CST
Tuesday, February 4, 2020 5:18PM CST
Thursday, January 30, 2020 2:52PM CST
An Urban’s Rural View
Urban Lehner
Editor Emeritus
Thursday, February 20, 2020 1:35PM CST
Monday, February 10, 2020 8:59AM CST
Monday, February 3, 2020 9:51AM CST
Machinery Chatter
Dan Miller
Progressive Farmer Senior Editor
Friday, February 28, 2020 10:37AM CST
Friday, February 14, 2020 2:50PM CST
Thursday, February 6, 2020 4:06PM CST
Canadian Markets
Cliff Jamieson
Canadian Grains Analyst
Thursday, February 27, 2020 12:38PM CST
Wednesday, February 26, 2020 3:33PM CST
Tuesday, February 25, 2020 3:17PM CST
Editor’s Notebook
Greg D. Horstmeier
DTN Editor-in-Chief
Tuesday, December 31, 2019 10:39AM CST
Friday, November 22, 2019 5:37PM CST
Monday, November 11, 2019 2:26PM CST
Copyright DTN. All rights reserved. Disclaimer.
Powered By DTN