ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) -- Earlier this week Governor Tony Evers said he is going to set aside $50 million in direct disaster payments for state farmers. That money is part of the $2 billion coming to the state from the latest federal government assistance program. And the latest numbers show the industry can use every one of those dollars because of the Coronavirus and trade disruptions. For dairy farmers, their losses in just February and March amounted to about $66 million with losses for the year now pegged in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The pandemic has also meant we have lost 25% of our hog industry in the state with dollar losses this year expected to be about $45 million. Our beef industry is taking a bigger hit. With lost packing plant capacity and lower prices, beef farmers are expected to lose up to $200 million this year. Potato growers are looking at losses this year reaching as high as $100 million, soybean growers could also lose as much as $100 million, corn farmers are looking at a $50 an acre drop in revenue while cranberry growers are also looking at millions of dollars in lost revenue this year.
(Cutout Photo: ilovebutter / Flickr / CC BY 2.0)(MGN)
More details are coming out about what's going to be involved in farmers getting more direct financial aid through the recently passed Coronavirus Food Assistance program. The program's rules say farmers will get 80% of their total payout right away with the remaining 20% coming later in the year. Those payments will be based on market price drops from the middle of January through the middle of April. One big change in this program is an increase in the payment cap from $125,000 per individual to as much as $750,000 depending how many principals there are in the farm operation. Dairy farmers' payments will be based on their milk production for the first quarter of this year multiplied by the national milk price decline over the same period.
When President Trump held that White House briefing earlier this week to announce the latest round of direct payments to farmers, he questioned Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue about why we are taking so many imported cattle. Purdue told him that it's because of trade deals and that we've worked with those countries for years. But the president responded that maybe it's time to change those deals, especially with countries that don't work with us and he added, "that's the way we're going to handle it."