USA – The federal government will spend up to US$1.2 billion to buy products from farmers hurt by the retaliatory tariffs from China and other countries, and will provide almost US$5 billion in payments to farmers, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced.
Accprding to ABC, the the purchases and payments are part of an emergency temporary aid package for farmers that was announced in July to provide relief for producers who were hurt by the trade war with China and other countries.
The government said it could spend up to US$12 billion to offset the estimated damages from tariffs placed on U.S. goods as retaliation for tariffs President Donald Trump announced against China and other countries.
ABC added that the Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said farmers were already under economic pressure, and tariffs couldn’t have come at a worse time.
USDA’s chief economist said net farm income is down more than 20% since 2012 and that it’s projected to go down even more.
“These are the men and women who year after year put their equity on the line and assume the financial risk every time they plant a new crop.
President Trump knows American farmers, ranchers and producers are the ones who feed, fuel and clothe not only this nation but also the rest of the world,” Perdue told reporters.
“Farmers are patriots and they support the president in his defence of the overall American economy, but it’s a fact that they cannot pay their bills with simple patriotism.”
The USDA already purchases millions of dollars in surplus food and other products as part of its aid programs, which redirect the products to food banks and nutrition programs like school lunches.
The purchases announced as part of trade relief will be in addition to that spending.
The largest purchases included US$558 million in pork, US$93 million in apples and almost US$85 million in dairy products.
But in addition to purchasing from larger industries, the government will make some smaller purchases including US$12 million in peanut butter, US$1.7 million in blueberries, and US$15,000 in figs.
Industry groups like the National Pork Producers Council said they are grateful for relief from the financial hit they took after the tariffs were put in place, but said that what producers really want is for the administration to end trade wars that hurt their businesses.
In addition to purchasing goods, the government will offer almost US$5 billion in direct payments to farmers whose products were affected the most by the trade wars, including soybeans, cotton and dairy.
Payments are capped at US$125,000 per person or legal entity, in most cases, and are available to applicants with a gross income less than US$900,000.
The majority of those payments — US$3.6 billion — will go to soybean farmers.
USDA said the aid package also includes US$200 million to identify new foreign markets for U.S. goods.