Growers of grapes, tree nuts, and cranberries got good news from Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Thursday morning.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture will provide up to $16 billion in aid to farmers impacted by the tariff battle with China initiated by President Donald Trump.
“Our farmers work hard, are the most productive in the world, and we aim to match their enthusiasm and patriotism as we support them.” — Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue
A statement from the USDA said that Trump authorized the aid, which is a $4 billion bump from last year.
“The plan we are announcing today ensures farmers do not bear the brunt of unfair retaliatory tariffs imposed by China and other trading partners,” Perdue said.
“Our team at USDA reflected on what worked well and gathered feedback on last year’s program to make this one even stronger and more effective for farmers. Our farmers work hard, are the most productive in the world, and we aim to match their enthusiasm and patriotism as we support them.”
Grapes, Nuts, and Cranberries Now Eligible for Aid
In addition, grapes, tree nuts, and cranberries now are eligible for direct federal payments to help offset losses in the trade war.
According to the USDA, farmers will receive assistance in three payments between July or August and early next year.
“We hope to have a trade agreement (with China) before those second and third payments are made,” said USDA Undersecretary Bill Northey.
Costa Blasts Assistance Plan
Congressman Jim Costa (D-Fresno) characterized the Trump administration’s assistance plan as a poor substitute for free trade and American access to foreign markets. Costa serves on the House agriculture committee.
“For more than a year now, producers of every commodity have said the same thing: they want long-term access to export markets, not hasty attempts by the federal government to clean up its own mess.” — Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno
“This rushed and poorly-planned bailout raises the troubling possibility that some of the nation’s most valuable agricultural products, like the fruit and vegetable crops produced in Central California, will receive a different and possibly reduced level of aid,” said Costa.
“For more than a year now, producers of every commodity have said the same thing: they want long-term access to export markets, not hasty attempts by the federal government to clean up its own mess.”
The Trump Trade War
Trump, seeking to reduce America’s trade deficit with the rest of the world and with China, in particular, has imposed import taxes on foreign steel, aluminum, solar panels, and dishwashers and on thousands of Chinese products.
U.S trading partners have lashed back with retaliatory tariffs of their own, focusing on U.S. agricultural products in a direct shot at the American heartland, where support for Trump runs high.
Talks between the world’s two biggest economies broke off earlier this month with no resolution to a dispute over Beijing’s aggressive efforts to challenge American technological dominance. The U.S. charges that China is stealing technology, unfairly subsidizing its own companies and forcing U.S. companies to hand over trade secrets if they want access to the Chinese market.
Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to discuss the standoff at a meeting of the Group of 20 major economies in Osaka, Japan, next month.
How Payments Are Calculated
The USDA said that dairy producers will be paid based on production history.
Tree nut producers, fresh sweet cherry producers, cranberry producers, and fresh grape producers will get payments based on 2019 acres in production.
You can read the USDA announcement at this link.