May 19, 2020 / 6:07 PM / 10 days ago

USDA sets coronavirus aid payments for corn, soy and wheat

CHICAGO (Reuters) - U.S. farmers that grow crops including corn and soybeans will receive coronavirus assistance payments based on either half of their 2019 production or the supplies they had on hand as of Jan. 15, the government said on Tuesday.

The coronavirus aid is the latest in a round of government payments that farmers have come to depend on for survival as the agricultural economy has soured. Growers already have received $28 billion during the past two years to weather the Trump administration’s trade wars.

The payments were set at 45 cents per bushel for soybeans, 32 cents per bushel for corn and 18 cents per bushel for hard red spring wheat, the U.S. Agriculture Department said. Other crops such as barley, canola, cotton and oats also were eligible for payment under the plan.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has led to much uncertainty across farm country,” National Corn Growers Association President Kevin Ross, said in a statement. “This assistance is a first step to getting farmers, and our customers, back on solid footing.”

President Donald Trump in April first announced a $19 billion relief program to help U.S. farmers cope with the impact of the coronavirus, including $16 billion in direct payments to producers and mass purchases of meat, dairy, vegetables and other products.

“We will need additional assistance for producers before the end of the fiscal year,” U.S. Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota, chairman of the agriculture appropriations subcommittee, said in a statement.

Farmers can apply for the payments starting on May 26, USDA said.

Reporting by Mark Weinraub, Karl Plume and Julie Ingwersen; Editing by Marguerita Choy

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