It has been a very, very bad few months for farmers.
Massive floods in the Midwest, low prices for crops and milk, and the continuing pressure of Trump’s trade war have had their effects. Bloomberg reports, citing the Department of Commerce, that farmer personal income is down in the first quarter of 2019—the largest such drop in the past three years.
The total damage, which is presented in annualized form—meaning, extrapolated to the entire year—checks in at a loss of $11.8 billion for the personal income of American farmers. This is despite some Trump administration efforts. In September 2018, the Trump administration announced $12 billion in bailout money to help farmers survive the trade war; it was paid out slowly and inefficiently, according to this New York Times report.
And just a few weeks ago, in mid-March, Trump’s 2020 budget was revealed, with massive cuts to programs farmers depend on. The budget proposal included a 15 percent total cut to the USDA’s budget, and $26 billion in cuts to the crop insurance program, a program which allows farms to survive in bad times. (Reminder: these are bad times, right now.) Even the Farm Bureau, which has generally supported the Republican party, spoke out in opposition.
With this news of dramatic drops in farmer income, there appears to be some miscommunication in the Trump administration. Economic adviser Larry Kudlow first said that the White House is prepared to do more to help agriculture; shortly thereafter, USDA secretary Sonny Perdue said there are no plans currently under discussion to provide more aid to struggling farmers.