$12 billion boost for US farmers hurt by trade tariffs

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$12 billion boost for US farmers hurt by trade tariffs

Agriculture officials say the plan will not require congressional approval.


(PA)
(PA)

The US government has announced a $12 billion (£9 billion) plan to assist farmers who have been hurt by President Donald Trump’s trade disputes with China and other trading partners.

The plan focuses on Midwest soybean producers and others targeted by retaliatory measures.

The Agriculture Department said the proposal would include direct assistance for farmers, purchases of excess crops and trade promotion activities aimed at building new export markets.

Officials said the plan would not require congressional approval and would come through the Commodity Credit Corporation, a wing of the department that addresses agricultural prices.

“This is a short-term solution that will give President Trump and his administration the time to work on long-term trade deals,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.

Officials said the direct payments could help producers of soybeans, which have been hit hard by the Trump tariffs, along with sorghum, corn, wheat, cotton, dairy and farmers raising pigs.

The food purchased from farmers would include some types of fruit, nuts, rice, legumes, dairy, beef and pork, officials said.

In Kansas City, meanwhile, President Trump told a veterans’ convention that he was trying to renegotiate trade agreements that he said have hurt American workers, and he asked for patience ahead of key talks.

“We’re making tremendous progress. They’re all coming. They don’t want to have those tariffs put on them,” President Trump told the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention. “We’re opening up markets. You watch what’s going to happen. Just be a little patient.”

Agriculture officials said the payments could not be calculated until after harvests come in. Brad Karmen, the USDA’s assistant deputy administrator for farm programmes, noted that the wheat harvest is already in, so wheat farmers could get payments sooner than other growers.

But officials said soybeans were likely to be the largest sector affected by the programmes.

President Trump declared earlier on Tuesday that “Tariffs are the greatest!” and threatened to impose additional penalties on US trading partners as he prepared for negotiations with European officials at the White House.

The Trump administration has slapped tariffs on $34 billion (£26 billion) in Chinese goods in a dispute over Beijing’s high-tech industrial policies.

China has retaliated with duties on soybeans and pork, affecting Midwest farmers in a region of the country that supported the president in his 2016 campaign.

President Trump has threatened to place penalty taxes on up to $500 billion (£380 billion) in products imported from China, a move that would dramatically ratchet up the stakes in the trade dispute involving the globe’s biggest economies.

Press Association

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