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Trump pledges $16B for farmers

The Trump administration announced Thursday a second aid package to farmers suffering under retaliatory tariffs from China, with the bulk of the $16 billion bailout going to direct payments to producers.

“The plan we are announcing today ensures farmers do not bear the brunt of unfair retaliatory tariffs imposed by China and other trading partners,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said in a statement.

The bailout will be distributed through a three-part program that is similar to a $12 billion package the Trump administration promised farmers last year.

The Market Facilitation Program will provide $14.5 billion in direct payments to affected producers of foods including corn, dairy and soybeans. Beginning in late July or early August, farmers will begin receiving up to three payments depending on market conditions and trade opportunities. Payment rates have not yet been released.

A $1.4 billion program will purchase surplus commodities affected by trade retaliation, such as fruits, vegetables, beef, pork, lamb, poultry and milk. Through USDA programs, the goods will be distributed to food banks, schools and other outlets serving low-income people. Finally, $100 million will assist in developing new export markets on behalf of producers.

Last July, the Trump administration announced similar tariff relief that was intended to be a “short-term solution” while the president worked on long-term trade deals.

Farmers, already hurt by low prices for their crops, have been reeling further from the Trump administration’s trade war with China, which retaliated last year by raising tariffs on U.S. soybeans. In the Midwest, farmers along the Missouri River still have hundreds of acres underwater after intensive flooding in mid-March.

Farm income and the total number of farms have declined between 2012 and 2017, according to the latest Census of Agriculture. Average farm income in 2017 was $43,053, down 2% from 2012, while the total number of farms declined from 2.11 million to 2.04 million.

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In 2017, U.S. farms and ranches produced $388.5 billion in agricultural products, down from $394.6 billion in 2012, according to the 2017 Census.

Stateline is a nonpartisan, nonprofit news service of the Pew Charitable Trusts that provides daily reporting and analysis on trends in state policy.

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Grain bins are flooded in eastern Nebraska after intensive flooding in mid-March. The Trump administration announced a second aid package to farmers suffering under retaliatory tariffs from China. Many also are weathering natural disasters.