Trump Readies New Round of Aid to Farmers Hit by China Trade War
Bloomberg reports that the aid plan is largely modeled on the program the administration put in place last year after China slapped retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agricultural products, though the payments will be more generous.
The administration is considering payments of about $2 per bushel to soybean growers, 63 cents per bushel to wheat growers and 4 cents per bushel to corn growers to compensate for losses from the trade war, according to two people familiar with the payment levels, who asked not to be identified because the aid plan hasn't been made public.
The administration last year paid $1.65 per bushel for soybeans, 14 cents per bushel for wheat and 1 cent per bushel for corn.
Other commodities also will receive payments in this year's aid package, as they did last year, said the people, who didn't provide the rates.
The outlines of the plan still could change since President Donald Trump can make adjustments any time before it's officially announced. The White House referred questions to the Agriculture Department. A USDA spokeswoman, Michawn Rich, declined to comment, saying the support package will be released at a later date, Bloomberg reports.
The standoff with China over trade is compounding the financial strain of five years of falling commodity prices and losses from spring flooding. American farm income dropped 16% last year to $63 billion, about half the level it was as recently as 2013. It's directly hitting a key part of Trump's political base: the rural voters that he won by a wide margin in 2016 and who are key to his re-election campaign.
The current plans call for some direct purchase of food by the government, as Trump indicated when he first announced the new round of trade aid, but payments to farmers would be the main element of the assistance.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said last week that the aid package could go as high as $20 billion, more than the $15 billion Trump announced earlier this month.