U.S. government to pay $15 minimum per acre to farmers hurt by China trade war

Washington | Reuters – The U.S. government will pay farmers hurt by President Donald Trump’s trade war with China a minimum of $15 per acre under an aid package to be unveiled before the end of this week, Secretary Sonny Perdue said on Tuesday.

“We’ll have information for you before the week ends,” he told reporters when asked about the aid, which is planned to be a total of about $16 billion to help farmers who have been hurt by the Chinese-U.S. trade dispute.

American soybean farmers, a key Trump constituency, have been among the hardest hit in the trade war. Soybeans are the most valuable U.S. farm export, and shipments to China dropped to a 16-year low in 2018.

A new aid program would be the second round of assistance for farmers, after the Department of Agriculture’s $12 billion plan last year to compensate for lower prices for farm goods and lost sales stemming from trade disputes with China and other nations.

The USDA has redesigned last year’s aid program of up to $12 billion based on feedback. The new package will have a single payment rate per county, calculated by the damages in that area, instead of a rate for every commodity across the nation.

Perdue said the minimal payment would be $15 per acre. “We’re anticipating right now three tranches; probably 50 pct … or minimum there of $15 an acre initially,” he said, adding that the second and the third tranches would be dependant on the market conditions.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed at last month’s G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, to restart trade talks that stalled in May. Trump said at the time he would not impose new tariffs and U.S. officials said China agreed to make agricultural purchases. But Trump said on July 11 that China was not living up to promises to buy U.S. farm goods

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