U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham introduced a bill that could help more soybean farmers participate in the tariff relief program.  

Earlier this year the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the Market Facilitation Program to offer payments to soybean farmers based on losses to their harvested acres incurred by Chinese tariffs. Many farmers, including some in Louisiana, have either harvested with nowhere to take their beans or been unable to harvest at all.

Abraham’s bill would amend the MFP to allow payments in some circumstances based on “planted acres” instead of “harvested acres.” This change will allow soybean farmers who could not take their crop to market the ability to still participate in the tariff relief program.

“Louisiana soybean farmers cannot be left out of the MFP," said Abraham, R-Alto and member of the House agriculture committee. "The problem they are facing is not of their making, and they should not be forced to bear the heaviest burden caused by market disruptions.

"The USDA told our soybean farmers that it would have their backs during these trade negotiations, and this bill ensures that the USDA will be able to honor that commitment. Congress should do the right thing by these hard-working farmers and pass this bill.”

Soybeans that typically are grown in the Midwest and shipped to the West Coast for export to China have instead been shipped down the Mississippi River to go to other markets. Storage elevators in Louisiana are full of out-of-state beans.

As a result, many Louisiana farmers faced a  choice of harvesting without a place to take their beans or allowing them to die in the fields because.

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Follow Adam Daigle on Twitter, @adamdaigleAdv.