USDA Announces $12-Billion Aid Package For Tariff-Damaged Farmers

Northwest Iowa — (RI) — The Trump Administration is announcing direct payments to farmers who’ve taken a financial hit due to international trade disputes.

The USDA also plans to buy dairy products, pork and other commodities like fruits and nuts for distribution to food banks. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue spoke with reporters Tuesday afternoon by telephone.

Perdue said up to $12-billion dollars is available for the effort and it does NOT require congressional approval. Rob Johannson is the chief economist in the USDA .

Direct payments will be made to dairy and pork producers as well as farmers who grow soybeans, sorghum, wheat and cotton. Greg Ibach is the USDA undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs.

USDA officials say more details about this plan, including how farmers are to be paid, will be released in the coming days. Iowa Senator Joni Ernst, a Republican, says farmers need a long-term trade strategy, not a short term fix. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley calls the proposal “encouraging for the short-term,” but Grassley says farmers ultimately want access to markets rather than “government hand-outs.” Several other Republicans in the U.S. Senate have issued sharper critiques. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul says this is “welfare for farmers.” Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse says Trump’s tariffs have cut the legs out from under farmers and these federal payments amount to “golden crutches.” Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson says farmers want trade, not aid and he suggested the Trump Administration was steering the country’s free market economy toward a “Soviet-style” system where “commissars” decide how to sprinkle out benefits.

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