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Trump Oks $12B in Farmer Assistance, but What Will be Done with All the Soybeans?

The Trump administration has approved $12 billion in federal assistance to farmers negatively affected by the ongoing trade dispute continuing between the U.S. and China, and President Trump himself has traveled to Iowa to speak with farmers in person to quell any concerns.

The financial assistance will be provided through three vehicles by the Department of Agriculture: direct assistance, a food purchase and distribution program, and a trade promotion program, all largely targeting soybean farmers. However, China accounts for the purchase of 25 percent of all U.S. soybeans grown, and with China threatening to cancel a huge buy order for this fall, what will be done with all of the unbought U.S. soybeans?

In the past, the government has managed the surplus of other commodities, such as dairy in the form of cheese or pork, through buying up supplies to be distributed to food pantries, or to be used by the school lunch program. But, the U.S. government has not held stored grain for about 20 years, so what can be done with soybeans that are largely grown to be used in animal feed or oil? Are on-farm storage or selling at a loss the only options for U.S. farmers?

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