- President Donald Trump announced a plan on Tuesday to provide billions of dollars in emergency aid for farmers who are caught up in the middle of his administration’s trade battles.
- The $US12 billion plan will be administered through the Department of Agriculture.
President Donald Trump’s administration announced a plan on Tuesday to provide billions of dollars in emergency aid for farmers caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s various burgeoning trade battles.
The Department of Agriculture announced the $US12 billion plan on Tuesday.
US agricultural products have been a major target of trading partners in response to tariffs the Trump administration has imposed on steel, aluminium, and about $US34 billion worth of Chinese goods. Farmers have said other countries’ retaliation to Trump’s trade policies could cost them billions of dollars.
Republicans have feared both those economic consequences as well as political ones as the party looks to avoid significant losses in the midterm elections this November.
The agriculture department said emergency aid would be provided to farmers through direct assistance, a government food purchase and distribution program, and a trade promotion program. It would be done in part through a division of the Agricultural Department that was created to provide financial support for farmers, according to The Washington Post.
The administration’s plan, however, is not expected to be a long-term solution if the trade battles continue.
“This is a short-term solution to allow President Trump time to work on long-term trade deals to benefit agriculture and the entire US economy,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said.
Trump took to Twitter on Tuesday morning to defend his policies.
“Countries that have treated us unfairly on trade for years are all coming to Washington to negotiate,” Trump tweeted. “This should have taken place many years ago but, as the saying goes, better late than never!”
“Tariffs are the greatest!” Trump continued on Tuesday. “Either a country which has treated the United States unfairly on Trade negotiates a fair deal, or it gets hit with Tariffs. It’s as simple as that – and everybody’s talking! Remember, we are the “piggy bank” that’s being robbed. All will be Great!”
At a VFW event in Kansas City on Tuesday afternoon, Trump said farmers would benefit the most from the new trade deals that he was negotiating.
Other countries “don’t want those tariffs put on them,” Trump said. “They’re all coming to see us. And the farmers will be the biggest beneficiary. We’re opening up markets. You watch what’s going to happen. Just be a little patient. They’re all aiming at anyone that likes me.”
Some Republicans in Congress lambasted the emergency-aid plan.
“This trade war is cutting the legs out from under farmers and White House’s ‘plan’ is to spend $US12 billion on gold crutches,” Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska said. “This administration’s tariffs and bailouts aren’t going to make America great again, they’re just going to make it 1929 again.”
On Wednesday morning, Trump took to Twitter to respond to Republican critics of his emergency aid plan.
“Every time I see a weak politician asking to stop Trade talks or the use of Tariffs to counter unfair Tariffs, I wonder, what can they be thinking?” Trump tweeted. “Are we just going to continue and let our farmers and country get ripped off? Lost $US817 Billion on Trade last year. No weakness!”
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