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.

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

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

34 PHOTOS
American soybean farmers
See Gallery
American soybean farmers
Bruce Edler, 56, a farmer for 40 years, fills seed planters with soybean seed in Gideon, Missouri, U.S., May 16, 2018. Picture taken May 16, 2018. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Farmer Jason Bean fills a soybean container at Bean and Bean Cotton Company in Gideon, Missouri, U.S., May 17, 2018. Picture taken May 17, 2018. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Bruce Edler, 56, a farmer for 40 years, fills seed planters with soybean seed in Gideon, Missouri, U.S., May 16, 2018. Picture taken May 16, 2018. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
A soybean seeding tractor is replenished with soybean seeds in a field in Gideon, Missouri, U.S., May 16, 2018. Picture taken May 16, 2018. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
A soybean seeding tractor is replenished with soybean seeds in a field in Gideon, Missouri, U.S., May 16, 2018. Picture taken May 16, 2018. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Carl Peterson, President of Peterson Farms and Seed, in his company's warehouse in Fargo, North Dakota, U.S., December 8, 2017. REUTERS/Dan Koeck
A worker takes a sample from an incoming truckload of soybeans at Peterson Farms Seed facility in Fargo, North Dakota, U.S., December 6, 2017. Photo taken December 6, 2017. REUTERS/Dan Koeck
A sample of clean, processed soybeans at Peterson Farms Seed facility in Fargo, North Dakota, U.S., December 6, 2017. Photo taken December 6, 2017. REUTERS/Dan Koeck
Samples of soybeans taken every hour during processing to monitor quality, are sorted for inspection at Peterson Farms Seed facility in Fargo, North Dakota, U.S., December 6, 2017. Photo taken December 6, 2017. REUTERS/Dan Koeck
Soybeans are sorted according to their weight and density on a gravity sorter machine at Peterson Farms Seed facility in Fargo, North Dakota, U.S., December 6, 2017. Photo take December 6, 2017. REUTERS/Dan Koeck
Technician Scott Guttormson checks the processing of soybeans on a gravity sorter at Peterson Farms Seed facility in Fargo, North Dakota, U.S., December 6, 2017. Photo taken December 6, 2017. REUTERS/Dan Koeck
Soybeans being sorted according to their weight and density on a gravity sorter machine at Peterson Farms Seed facility in Fargo, North Dakota, U.S., December 6, 2017. Photo taken December 6, 2017. REUTERS/Dan Koeck
A sample of soybeans sorted for inspection at Peterson Farms Seed facility in Fargo, North Dakota, U.S., December 6, 2017. Photo taken December 6, 2017. REUTERS/Dan Koeck
John Ziegler, plant manager at Peterson Farm Seed facility walks through a storage warehouse stacked with bulk tote bags of soybeans ready for shipment, in Fargo, North Dakota, U.S., December 6, 2017. Photo taken December 6, 2017. REUTERS/Dan Koeck
Soybeans grow in front of the Kentucky Utilities Ghent Generating Station, a coal-fired power-plant, along the Ohio River in Vevay, Indiana, U.S., September 22, 2017. Photograph taken at N38�45.502' W85�02.963'. Photograph taken September 22, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
John Weiss fears losing up to 50% of his soybean crops, which he had reported to the state board for showing signs of damage due to the drifting of Monsanto's pesticide Dicamba, at his farm in Dell, Arkansas, U.S. July 25, 2017. (Cotton is pictured behind him) Picture taken July 25, 2017. REUTERS/Karen Pulfer Focht
John Weiss pulls out some Pig Weed near his crop of soybeans, which he had reported to the state board for showing signs of damage due to the drifting of pesticide Dicamba, at his farm in Dell, Arkansas, U.S. July 25, 2017. Picture taken July 25, 2017. REUTERS/Karen Pulfer Focht
DWIGHT, IL - JUNE 13: Soybeans grow in a field on June 13, 2018 in Dwight, Illinois. The condition of U.S. corn and soybean crops in most regions is far outpacing last year's condition at this point in the season. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
DWIGHT, IL - JUNE 13: Soybeans grow in a field on June 13, 2018 in Dwight, Illinois. The condition of U.S. corn and soybean crops in most regions is far outpacing last year's condition at this point in the season. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
DWIGHT, IL - JUNE 13: Soybeans are loaded onto a truck before delivery to a grain elevator on June 13, 2018 near Dwight, Illinois. U.S. soybean futures plunged today with renewed fears that China could hit U.S. soybeans with retaliatory tariffs if the Trump administration follows through with threatened tariffs on Chinese goods. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
DWIGHT, IL - JUNE 13: Farmer John Duffy (R) and Roger Murphy load soybeans from a grain bin onto a truck before taking them to a grain elevator on June 13, 2018 in Dwight, Illinois. U.S. soybean futures plunged today with renewed fears that China could hit U.S. soybeans with retaliatory tariffs if the Trump administration follows through with threatened tariffs on Chinese goods. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
DWIGHT, IL - JUNE 13: Farmer John Duffy loads soybeans from his grain bin onto a truck before taking them to a grain elevator on June 13, 2018 in Dwight, Illinois. U.S. soybean futures plunged today with renewed fears that China could hit U.S. soybeans with retaliatory tariffs if the Trump administration follows through with threatened tariffs on Chinese goods. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
DWIGHT, IL - JUNE 13: Farmer John Duffy (L) and Roger Murphy load soybeans from a grain bin onto a truck before taking them to a grain elevator on June 13, 2018 in Dwight, Illinois. U.S. soybean futures plunged today with renewed fears that China could hit U.S. soybeans with retaliatory tariffs if the Trump administration follows through with threatened tariffs on Chinese goods. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
DWIGHT, IL - JUNE 13: Farmer John Duffy drives a load of soybeans to the grain elevator on June 13, 2018 in Dwight, Illinois. U.S. soybean futures plunged today with renewed fears that China could hit U.S. soybeans with retaliatory tariffs if the Trump administration follows through with threatened tariffs on Chinese goods. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
DWIGHT, IL - JUNE 13: Farmer John Duffy loads soybeans from his grain bin onto a truck before taking them to a grain elevator on June 13, 2018 in Dwight, Illinois. U.S. soybean futures plunged today with renewed fears that China could hit U.S. soybeans with retaliatory tariffs if the Trump administration follows through with threatened tariffs on Chinese goods. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
DWIGHT, IL - JUNE 13: Farmer John Duffy loads soybeans from his grain bin onto a truck before taking them to a grain elevator on June 13, 2018 in Dwight, Illinois. U.S. soybean futures plunged today with renewed fears that China could hit U.S. soybeans with retaliatory tariffs if the Trump administration follows through with threatened tariffs on Chinese goods. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
DWIGHT, IL - JUNE 13: Farmer John Duffy loads soybeans from his grain bin onto a truck before taking them to a grain elevator on June 13, 2018 in Dwight, Illinois. U.S. soybean futures plunged today with renewed fears that China could hit U.S. soybeans with retaliatory tariffs if the Trump administration follows through with threatened tariffs on Chinese goods. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
BLACKSTONE, IL - JUNE 13: Greg Lovins checks the quality of a load of soybeans being delivered to a Ruff Bros. Grain elevator on June 13, 2018 in Blackstone, Illinois. U.S. soybean futures plunged today with renewed fears that China could hit U.S. soybeans with retaliatory tariffs if the Trump administration follows through with threatened tariffs on Chinese goods. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Farmer Chris Crosskno watches as soy beans are loaded into his truck on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017, at his farm near Denton, Mo. Crosskno is busy harvesting all of his soy beans this month. (J.B. Forbes/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS via Getty Images)
Farm worker Jamie Herron cuts and loads soy beans with his combine on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017, at Chris Crosskno's farm near Denton, Mo. Crosskno is busy harvesting all of his soy beans this month. (J.B. Forbes/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS via Getty Images)
Truck driver Marion Howard watches soy beans load into his truck on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017, at Chris Crosskno's farm near Denton, Mo. Crosskno is busy harvesting all of his soy beans this month. (J.B. Forbes/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS via Getty Images)
Soybeans are loaded into a truck during harvest in Princeton, Illinois, U.S., on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017. Soybean futures for November delivery rose 0.1% a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade after falling as much as 0.5%, the lowest since September 13. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Soybeans are loaded into a truck during harvest in Princeton, Illinois, U.S., on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017. Soybean futures for November delivery rose 0.1% a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade after falling as much as 0.5%, the lowest since September 13. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Harvested soybeans sit in a truck in Princeton, Illinois, U.S., on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017. Soybean futures for November delivery rose 0.1% a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade after falling as much as 0.5%, the lowest since September 13. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

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."


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.

Read Full Story