In response to the continued trade war with China, the Trump administration announced new aid for farmers—who have been hit particularly hard.
American farmers have had no shortage of troubles in the past year. Massive floods in the Midwest, plummeting prices, farm income lower than it’s been in years—and none of that has been helped by the Trump administration’s trade war with China. To help, Trump and his USDA announced a new aid package.
After Trump slapped large 25 percent tariffs on various Chinese goods, China responded with tariffs of their own, many of which involved American agricultural goods. The most notable of those is probably soybeans, which are the country’s second-largest crop and which counts China as its largest buyer. But plenty of other crops and products have been affected as well: pork, cotton, nuts, fruits and berries, dairy, wine, and more.
Previously, the USDA had announced a $12 billion package, which according to the New York Times was paid out slowly and inefficiently. The new package will be for $16 billion, and the Washington Post reports that Trump implied that China would somehow pay for this package via tariffs, which is inaccurate given that those tariffs would be paid by importers—and, down the line, consumers.
In any case, the new package will be distributed based on county and not commodity, which should help prevent farmers from planting crops they know the trade war will prevent them from selling in order to get more aid money. It should, hopefully, be more equitable in distributing aid money to all farmers who have been hurt by the trade war, whether they produce soybeans, cherries, or pinot noir. (Or if they’re senators; Chuck Grassley apparently will be applying for his share of the aid package.)
But it’s also worth noting that the previous package was not considered a success; the losses have already far exceeded the amount of aid money, which means farmers cannot be made whole by the payouts. At best, it may help prevent farms from declaring bankruptcy and/or shutting down for good, though the number of bankruptcies is up, year over year.