US announces $12bn in aid to farmers hurt by trade tariffs

iStock
iStock

Washington - The US government will provide up to $12bn in aid to American farmers hurt by the retaliatory tariffs imposed by trading partners, US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced in this week.

These actions are aimed "to assist farmers in response to trade damage caused by illegal retaliatory tariffs," Perdue told reporters.

He said this was  a "short-term" solution to help farmers and give President Donald Trump time to negotiate a longer term trade deal.

It was the first recognition by the Trump administration that the president's trade dispute is hurting Americans. Perdue said the department estimated damage to the agriculture sector at $11bn.

Trump has in recent months engaged in a multifront trade confrontation, imposing steep tariffs on steel, aluminum and tens of billions of dollars in Chinese goods, which sparked swift retaliation against key US farm products like soy and pork.

Under the three USDA aid programmes, farmers will either receive direct payments or sell their excess production to the government, Perdue said. In addition, the government will work to open new markets.

This will aid producers of soy, sorghum, corn, wheat, pork, dairy, fruit, rice and nuts, all products hit by tariffs imposed in response to US action.

The actions "are a firm statement that other nations cannot bully our agricultural producers to force the United States to cave in," Perdue said.

"The correct action from other nations would be to stop their bad behavior not to retaliate with illegal tariffs."

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