Trump announces $16 billion in aid to farmers amid trade war

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Thursday announced a $16 billion aid package for American farmers aimed at softening the financial blow created by the ongoing trade war with China.

"Our farmers will be greatly helped," Trump said during a press event in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. "The 16 billion [dollar] funds will help keep our cherished farms thriving."

Thursday’s announcement comes as tensions continue to escalate between the United States and China and negotiations have largely stalled.

Earlier this month, talks between the two countries ended without a deal as Trump imposed another round of tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods. And both Trump and President Xi Jinping of China have signaled that they are prepared for a long fight, if necessary.

Thursday's aid package is the second bailout the Trump administration has issued in response to decreased agriculture trade with China. Last November, Trump announced $12 billion in aid to “make it up” to farmers, as he described it.

"During that time of negotiation, if everyone remembers, we had a period where China would target our farms," Trump said Thursday. "Now is the time to insist on fair and reciprocal trade for our workers and our farmers."

Trump added that he was "hopeful" that trade talks could begin again with China, but if that didn't happen, "that’s fine."

"These tariffs are paid for largely by China," Trump continued, repeating claims that the tariffs were being paid out by China, not American importers. However, a study published Thursday by the International Monetary Fund found that the tariff revenue on Chinese goods “has been borne almost entirely” by U.S. importers.

Communities that supported Trump in the 2016 election have been some of the hardest hit by the ongoing trade war, and some say there is reason for Republicans to be concerned as the window to reach a deal with China before the 2020 election continues to narrow.

“I think President Trump is counting on his tariff bailout payments to buy support for him among farmers, but this is a bigger issue,” Richard Oswald, 69, of Langdon, Missouri, a fifth generation farmer, said in a phone interview with NBC News. “This is going to bite a lot of Republicans when it’s all said and done. I don’t think he understands the stress people are under and it shows a lack of compassion.”

The timing of the administration's decision to roll out another bailout, as farmers are still deciding what crops to plant this season, has come under criticism from some lawmakers.

“We want farmers to make decisions on how many acres of corn and soybeans to plant based on the market and not something the government’s doing,” Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, told reporters Wednesday.

Farmers are required to plant a crop to ultimately receive aid from the federal government later in the year, according to the U.S.Department of Agriculture.

That could also be an issue because producers are so far behind on planting corn and soybeans as well as most other crops, the USDA reported earlier this week. The nearly unprecedented level of delay is largely due to the flooding in the Midwest.

"The challenge is that a lot of folks can’t get a crop in the ground because of the rain in the Midwest. We’re historically slow on planting right now," said John Newton, the chief economist of the Farm Bureau.

Jonathan Coppess, the former Farm Service Agency administrator and the director of the Gardner Agriculture Policy Program at the University of Illinois, also expressed concerns about the aid package.

“Frankly the most immediate issues they need to clear up is the requirement that you need to plant a crop to get payment. The risk of impacting planting decisions is already in place. They’re telling them explicitly that they have to plant something," Coppess said in an interview with NBC News, cautioning the potential for a further depressed market.

In addition to the $16 billion aid funds, Trump also announced plans to roll back some regulations on farming in the coming days, although he did not provide specifics. "We're saving our farmers and ranchers from ridiculous regulations,” Trump said Thursday.

Trump is expected to meet with Xi at the G-20 summit in June.

34 PHOTOS
American soybean farmers
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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
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