Administration announces $12 billion in aid to farmers hurt by Trump's trade war

WASHINGTON — The federal government will dole out up to $12 billion in "temporary relief" to struggling farmers who have been hurt by President Donald Trump's tariffs and trade war, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Tuesday.

News of the aid package was first reported by The Washington Post, which said that $12 billion be paid out via at least three avenues: Direct assistance; a food purchase program; and a trade promotion program.

Trump's new emergency aid package comes just days after members of the Iowa Corn Growers Association met with lawmakers on Capitol Hill to express their growing concerns that they will not be able to keep their businesses afloat after this year’s harvest, if prices continue to drop due to the trade war.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers have echoed those concerns, but Trump has remained steadfast in pushing his trade goals.

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.
This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

Earlier Tuesday, he tweeted: "Tariffs are the greatest!"

More on the farmers impacted by the tariffs and trade war:

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

The relief drew immediate criticism from some lawmakers. Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Nebraska, said, "This trade war is cutting the legs out from under farmers and White House's 'plan' is to spend $12 billion on gold crutches."

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., ripped the White House's planned aid as "welfare for farmers."


This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

The aid comes amid a growing trade war between the U.S. and other world powers that has had a particularly harmful effect on American farmers.

In March, after Trump in March announced a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports from China, pork producers in the U.S. were hit with a retaliatory 25 percent tariff on their China-bound exports.

Trump expanded tariffs to products from Mexico, Canada, and the E.U. in the months after that, prompting those countries, too, to implement retaliatory tariffs placed on U.S. exports.

China has since increased its tariff on U.S. pork exports to 50 percent, and Mexico imposed its own 20-percent tariff on U.S. pork. While Mexico left American corn off of their list of goods with tariffs, both the E.U. and China levied an additional 25-percent tariff on the crop.

Those tariffs have caused corn farmers and pork producers, in particular, to take huge financial hits. Markets for both have seen a roughly 15 percent drop in prices since the spring when Trump slapped his first tariffs on imported steel and aluminum from overseas.

The new aid to farmers, however, could trigger further action by other countries.

The World Trade Organization, which Trump has also repeatedly criticized, has strict rules about whether nations can subsidize industries, including farming, that have been hurt by trade measures that their own governments initiated. Citing those rules, other WTO members could choose to file a formal complaint over the U.S. decision to provide aid to farmers.