The Trump administration on Thursday rolled out a second round of aid for farmers who have been stung by its yearlong trade war with China, bringing the price tag of bailout efforts so far to about $28 billion.
About $14.5 billion worth of direct payments will be made to farmers through the subsidy program, the Department of Agriculture said, while another $1.5 billion is set aside for commodity purchases and marketing efforts.
The new package mirrored a $12 billion aid package announced last year, which provided direct and indirect payments to farmers after China placed retaliatory tariffs on agricultural products from the US. That move has blocked American farmers from one of their biggest customers, sending prices and exports of commodities sharply lower.
“President Trump has great affection for America’s farmers and ranchers, and he knows they are bearing the brunt of these trade disputes,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. “In fact, I’ve never known of a president that has been more concerned or interested in farmer wellbeing and long-term profitability than President Trump.”
The Trump administration has been eager to assuage constituents across rural America ahead of the 2020 elections. Research suggests Republican counties have borne the brunt of the tariffs on $250 billion worth of goods from China and retaliatory measures targeting $110 billion in American products.
Trump has found support in his calls to crack down on certain policies from Beijing, such as state-funded subsidies that officials said have the potential to distort world markets.
But as tariffs cast a cloud of uncertainty on a second growing season, some farmers have grown frustrated at the dispute and negotiations that began last March. American agricultural exports are expected to fall by roughly $1.9 billion this year, largely because of retaliatory duties in China.
“Every time we turn around we feel like we’re getting closer to a deal and then nothing happens,” said Rob Shaffer, a soybean and corn grower in El Paso, Illinois. “So, I guess I’ve become immune.”