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US announces $12 bn in aid to farmers hurt by trade tariffs

US President Donald J. Trump speaks after touring a 'Made in America Product Showcase' in the Cross Hall of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 23 July 2018. The President is considering revoking the security clearances of five former officials who, according to White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, have allegedly made 'baseless charges' against Trump. EPA-EFE/JIM LO SCALZO

The US government will provide up to $12 billion in aid to American farmers hurt by the retaliatory tariffs imposed by trading partners, US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced Tuesday.

These actions are aimed “to assist farmers in response to trade damage caused by illegal retaliatory tariffs,” Perdue told reporters.

He said this is a “short-term” solution to help farmers and give President Donald Trump time to negotiate a longer term trade deal.

It was the first recognition by the Trump administration that the president’s trade dispute is hurting Americans. Perdue said the department estimated damage to the agriculture sector at $11 billion.

Trump has in recent months engaged in a multifront trade confrontation, imposing steep tariffs on steel, aluminum and tens of billions of dollars in Chinese goods, which sparked swift retaliation against key US farm products like soy and pork.

Under the three USDA aid programs, farmers will either receive direct payments or sell their excess production to the government, Perdue said. In addition, the government will work to open new markets.

This will aid producers of soy, sorghum, corn, wheat, pork, dairy, fruit, rice and nuts, all products hit by tariffs imposed in response to US action.

The actions “are a firm statement that other nations cannot bully our agricultural producers to force the United States to cave in,” Perdue said.

“The correct action from other nations would be to stop their bad behavior not to retaliate with illegal tariffs.” DM

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