A Twitter announcement from President Donald Trump last week made it seem like more trade aid for farmers hurt by trade disputes is a legitimate possibility. 

Evidently, he hadn’t yet made it known to USDA that this was on the table. 

“The president’s tweet was a surprise to us,” says Ted McKinney, Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Ag Affairs. “That’s the decision we’ll go with.” 

Politico says the administration’s agricultural forecasts offer some conflicting messages about whether additional trade is actually needed this year. 

USDA’s Chief Economist, Robert Johansson, predicts a return to what he called “normal trade” in 2020, along with mentioning more hopeful signs for the farm economy ahead this year after a recent economic downturn. 

Farm income is projected to increase this year despite a large drop in federal farm payments as the 2019 trade aid program wraps up. 

Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue has already predicted a “record year for agricultural exports with China.” 

But, market analysts say isn’t entirely possible because of Beijing’s insistence on following market demand and complying with World Trade Organization limitations. 

USDA has already paid out $23 billion directly to U.S. producers since 2018.