Heitkamp: ‘Farmers don’t want a check, they want a market’

Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) criticized the Trump administration’s new farm aid plan, saying it doesn’t address the long-term ramifications of the president’s escalating trade war.

On Tuesday, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it would offer $12 billion in aid to farmers hit by retaliatory tariffs imposed on U.S. goods.

“At the end of the day, farmers don’t want a check, they want a market,”  Heitkamp told Hill.TV correspondent Molly Hooper.

Heitkamp thinks lawmakers need to continue to provide support for agricultural communities across the country.

“My farmers are desperate, they need to make sure they have a lifeline,” Heitkamp said. “We’re working on a number of other provisions that might make it easier for them to access some resources.”

Shortly after her comments, Heitkamp announced a new bill aimed at helping farmers and ranchers recover their losses as a result of the administration’s trade policies.

Heitkamp’s bill would provided provide greater access to the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA). The program was first created in 1962 to help workers harmed by changing trade policies.

Some farmers are not eligible for the direct financial assistance provided by the program. But Heitkamp’s bill would change all that – it would help available to all farmers and producers whose exports have been hurt by retaliatory tariffs caused by the administration’s trade policies.

In addition to this new bill, she introduced bipartisan legislation with Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) and co-sponsored another bipartisan bill introduced by Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) to nullify the steel and aluminum tariffs.

Heitkamp is currently facing reelection in North Dakota, and it’s already shaping up to be an uphill battle.

The incumbent is going up against Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer in a state where Trump won by almost 36 points in the 2016 election.

— Tess Bonn

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