Sec. Sonny Perdue Speaks to the Important Issues: MFP Payments, Trade Relations and TraceabilityWed, 31 Oct 2018 15:45:20 CDT
United States Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue visited Oklahoma City, Wednesday, to meet with leaders in Oklahoma’s agriculture industry while in town to address officials from the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resource Conservation Service and Risk Management Agency during the Farm Production and Conservation Leadership Summit taking place in Norman, Okla. this week. After meeting with Oklahoma’s Congressional Delegation and Governor Mary Fallin among others, the Secretary took a few moments to answer questions from members of the Oklahoma ag media including Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays. Listen to the Secretary’s complete Q&A session to hear his thoughts on some of the most pressing agricultural issues, by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of the page.
Secretary Perdue touched on several subjects with members of the media, beginning with a question regarding his plans for the second round of Market Facilitation Program payments to farmers affected by Chinese tariff pressure, that have been hinted at in recent comments with reporters. According to the Secretary, it is still in question as to exactly when the payments will be made, but will in all likelihood be sometime after the Thanksgiving holiday either in late November or early December. Of the $12 billion that President Trump has committed to the program, Perdue says roughly half or a little less of that amount will be applied to this second round of payments.
“My expectation is, we’re going to watch this trade deal. We decided to bifurcate that in order to keep pressure on our trade negotiators,” Perdue said. “There’s no farmer out here that wouldn’t rather have trade than aid and we know that very clearly.”
Regarding the issue of US trade relations, Perdue seemed optimistic citing recent examples of success in that arena including the renewal of the Korea Free Trade Agreement, the handshake agreement with Canada and Mexico on the USMCA trade deal and the commitments from the European Union and Japan to discuss bilateral agreements with the US.
“That sums up many of our favorite destinations, so we’ve got China left at that point,” he said. “I think they will begin to realize they may be somewhat isolated in world trade. China has not played fair, and that’s exactly why President Trump did what he did. I sort of think that we might have become too dependent on one big customer. There’s a lot of people that eat in southeast Asia than just China, so we want more customers. We’ve got Undersecretary Ted McKinney that’s going around the world looking for other customers.”
In addition, the topic of the beef industry moving toward a consensus on the possible implementation of an Animal Disease Traceability system was mentioned. Secretary Perdue explained that his position on the matter is that ADT is important, though it is not a matter in which the USDA should mandate but rather the consumer.
“Whether we like it or not as producers, we’ve got to give consumers a confidence in our product that it is safe, healthy and nutritious,” he said. “It will really be better for us in the long-run to be a facilitator, not a dictator of how this process is going to go forward.
“I think universal ID is helpful and I think the consuming public will drive the producers to that. I would rather have consumers drive that from consumer choice than the USDA mandate it.”
You can listen to this complete Q&A session with Secretary Perdue by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below, or hear the entire program recorded at the Secretary’s luncheon in Oklahoma City on our Perspective’s Podcast page, by clicking here.
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