Trump administration announces $16B aid package for farmers hurt by trade war with China

The Trump administration on Thursday announced a new $16 billion aid package for farmers hurt by the trade war between the U.S. and China.

The assistance will provide direct payments to help farmers make up for losses resulting from retaliatory tariffs Beijing imposed on major U.S. crops. Limited access to China’s market has helped drive down the price of agricultural commodities since the collapse of trade talks earlier this month. 

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Beijing increased tariffs on $60 billion in U.S. goods in response to Trump’s decision to raise tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese imports to 25 percent.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpFormer Joint Chiefs chairman: 'The last thing in the world we need right now is a war with Iran' Pence: 'We're not convinced' downing of drone was 'authorized at the highest levels' Trump: Bolton would take on the whole world at one time MORE has great affection for America’s farmers and ranchers, and he knows they are bearing the brunt of these trade disputes,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny PerdueGeorge (Sonny) Ervin PerdueOn The Money: Pelosi says no debt ceiling hike until deal on spending caps | McConnell pressures White House to strike budget deal | Warren bill would wipe out billions in student debt | Senate passes IRS reform bill Federal employees turn their backs on Agriculture secretary after relocation plans announced Agriculture Department plans for feeding the nation miss the mark MORE said in a statement. “In fact, I’ve never known of a president that has been more concerned or interested in farmer wellbeing and long-term profitability than President Trump.”

Trump is scheduled to meet with farmers and ranchers in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Thursday afternoon and roll out the new aid program. 

The program is similar to a $12 billion aid package Trump approved last year amid heightened trade tensions with China. 

It is expected to last through the rest of the year, with the first batch of payments sent out in late July or early August. The president had previously said tariff revenue would help fund the aid package but the program as described by the Agriculture Department is not expected to directly use money collected from tariffs.

 

The aid payments will be decided based on a county-by-county rate and how much of each crop a farmer has planted. Farmers of soybeans, the U.S. largest crop export to China, are eligible for relief, as are growers of corn, wheat, cotton, rice and sorghum as well as livestock producers.

White House officials have accused China of seeking to inflict damage on the president by targeting products from heartland states that are key to his reelection campaign.