Corn and soybean farmer William Hejl checks one of his soybean fields in Amenia, North Dakota, July 6, 2018.
Dan Koeck | Reuters
The Trump administration on Thursday outlined the details of a $16 billion aid package for farmers damaged by bad weather and the U.S. trade war with China.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture program includes $14.5 billion in direct payments to farmers for a range of crops, administration officials told reporters. It also has a $1.4 billion food purchase program and a $300 million trade promotion.
Sign-ups for aid start Monday, while payments will begin next month. The program will last through the fall and winter if the U.S. has not resolved the trade conflict. The USDA will base payments on factors such as specific crops and where farmers are located.
President Donald Trump has tried to boost farmers damaged by his ongoing trade conflict with China ahead of his 2020 reelection bid. The agriculture industry, which has taken a hit from Beijing’s retaliatory tariffs, has typically supported Republican candidates.
On Thursday, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue called it “entirely justifiable” to send aid to the agriculture sector as opposed to other industries damaged by trade policy. He also said he believes China could still buy more U.S. crops — a condition Trump wants Beijing to fulfill as the world’s two largest economies try to strike a trade deal.
Perdue said the administration does not currently have plans for a 2020 aid program.
In a tweet Tuesday, Trump claimed “farmers are starting to do great again, after 15 years of a downward spiral.” He said the $16 billion aid package “didn’t exactly hurt!”